“You just gotta keep moving,” the funky, spunky woman said, when asked how she did ninetysomething so well. Then, to clarify, because we’d also just been chatting about all of the places she’d lived in, she added, “I mean the body!”
Ever heard of sarcopenia? Trust me, it’s no friend, especially if you plan to continue living and do it well. Sarcopenia is age-related muscle wasting. Research has shown that after the age of 30 we can lose 3-8% (another article had that number as high as 10%) of our muscle mass per decade.
Meaning? Insistence on couch potato-ing it into old age means agreeing to a body that is heavier, weaker, less energized and twice as likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
“As few as two weeks of complete physical inactivity can have the same effect on muscle loss as a decade of aging,” writes John Pope in The O&P Edge, a magazine for healthcare professionals specializing in orthotics and prosthetics. Yikes! Willing to give up a decade for a mere two weeks? I’m dropping down, doing 50 push-ups, right now!
And there’s this, according to MyHealth.Alberta.ca: “Research shows that people actually need to be more physically active as they get older to stay healthy and strong.”
So? You really only need to stay physically active if . . . you want to stay healthy and strong. There is no magic pill. Well, there is, but you don’t take it by mouth, you take it by body, in the commitment to perform moderate to vigorous movement on a regular basis. One of my favourite books, Younger Next Year, by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D., suggests, “Serious exercise, SIX DAYS A WEEK, until death.” (Other sources may cite a bit less.)
If you don’t have a fitness routine in place, don’t panic. “The good news is,” writes Todd Morena at wellbeyond55.com, “it is never too late to include movement into our weekly routine.”
Like to dance? Sir Ken Robinson, in an article called “Why dance is just as important as math in school” wrote this about dance: “It is deep in the heart of every culture throughout history; dance is part of the pulse of humanity. Dance can help restore joy and stability in troubled lives . . .”
I feel both lucky and grateful because, as a Jazzercise fitness instructor, dance instills “joy and stability” in my life on a regular basis. If dance isn’t your thing though, there are so many other options – walk, run, swim, golf, do yoga, weight train, garden. It’s important to find something you enjoy, something you are interested in, so you will stick with it.
Benefits of regular exercise:
*decrease blood pressure, heart rate
*increase lung capacity
*strengthen immune system
*improve mood, reduce stress
*increase strength and muscle mass
*reduce risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, etc
*maintain healthy bones, muscles, joints
*control joint swelling, pain
*improve quality of life
*reduce risk of dementia
Absolutely abhor exercise? Then I suggest watching a TED Talk by Emily Balcetis called “Why some people find exercise harder than others”. The trick? “Eyes on the prize”. A distaste for movement may have more to do with one’s vision than one’s body. Did you know that dieters see apples larger than they are?
Happy New Year and, hopefully, Happy New Rear. Balcetis says most New Year’s resolutions with regard to health and fitness are broken by Valentine’s Day, so best to not overthink it. Just get up, move that body, today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next . . .
Website Photo: Because I keep moving, I can (sort of) keep up with my kids when they decide to hike mountains, like in Joffre Lakes, BC.