Empower Your Aging
Live Like You Can
By Janis McDonald
Acceptance of the fact that our bodies quietly reduce function—long before we notice needing help opening jars or getting out of a taxi—is truly a blessing in disguise. Out of denial and into acceptance will thrust us into taking action now. Even minimal changes in lifestyle and activity will add up, slowing down the aging curve and empowering us to bend the normal aging downward trajectory to dysfunction.
For most, we are strongest in our 20s and 30s. Then an slowly creeping, almost imperceptible slide begins to happen, continuing on decade by decade until we might begin to notice in our 60s or 70s that our activities of daily living are becoming somewhat more difficult while the body feels stiffer and achier.
Each of us is born with a physiological reserve that gives us excess capacity to recover functioning but decreases over time. The effects can sneak up on us because even though our “youthful reserve” might be used up, we may experience little or no decline in function. Our first indication of muscle weakness might be falling or difficulty with getting up from a chair or bathtub. However, most people don’t become incapacitated by loss of muscle strength until they are over 80. While our longer lives (34 years longer than our great grandparents) are indeed a gift, we need to take active interventions to delay bodily decline in order to enjoy those extra years.
Now for the good news! The age of immobility can be modified, delayed, or avoided, as witnessed by increasing news stories about people at l00 years of age roller skating, dating, competing, learning, and thriving. Gerontologists have shown that the trajectory of decline can be tweaked by different interventions, and it often doesn’t matter if you’re 50 or 90 when you begin. While midlife lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on your abilities later in life, it’s never too late, no matter what your age, to do a course correction. Even minor interventions can lead to dramatic improvements in the “gift” of living longer lives.
Beginning a walking program at 50 could delay major physical functional abilities at 90 and beyond. Recently, I read that “sitting is today’s new smoking,” and becoming a couch potato at 50 can start an aging body on the road to immobility as early as 60.
My gym has been experiencing an increase in older people (80–90 plus years) coming to begin or continue their functional exercise training. Even people who think they no longer can bend their joints and move their bodies sufficiently to regain any strength or fitness can experience a complete workout while training on the Power Plate, when beginning with static exercise poses that strengthen the total body and increase circulation and neuromuscular activation while recovering balance and flexibility. People with joint issues, stroke, and neuromuscular disease will discover benefits from “working the parts that work” and waking up parts thought to be asleep.
Janis McDonald, Professional Wellness Coach, Private Personal Training and Power Plate Gym, 152 0457. Follow the Live Like You Can Blog! Go to: www.livelikeyoucan.com