In my 20s and 30s the thought of ageing never entered my head. I thought that my 40s and 50s were a million years away. As soon as I hit my 40th birthday I realised that I had an important decision to make. How am I going to age?
My father has always been a keen sportsman and every year he gets wiser he sets out an exercise routine with goals and targets. I am far more relaxed but I have his work ethic when it comes to exercise. I understand that what I do now will give me a far better quality of life in the future. However my approach has been and is far more relaxed. I do what I enjoy and only what I enjoy, and I do so at my own pace. As an Instructor I hope I attract students who feel the same way that I do. That relaxation and enjoyment combined with gentle exercise are the key.
What is ageing? Or what is the ageing process? I have read so many accounts of what this means, some accounts positive and encouraging and others the stuff of nightmares.
What I have learnt is this. Ageing is a normal process and is one that we should not fear. The science is this;-
Ageing is the period of our life when the phase of growth and development comes to an end. It is a normal biological process and everybody goes through it.
When we are young we take certain tasks for granted. These include washing, dressing, feeding. We wake up and through the course of the day we perform these activities without thinking. Until the age of 80-90 years, hopefully we are able to perform these routines which give us our independence. The misconception is this. The ageing process on its own does not dictate how long we can go on performing these important tasks that give us the independence that is so crucial to us. It is ageing plus fitness that determine how long we can go without needing any help.
The following factors can affect our ageing process in a negative way;
Lack of Fitness
It is fitness in this article that I want to concentrate. Exercise improves circulation and heart activity. Exercise improves body strength and flexibility and keeps the joints working. Exercise reduces depression and helps reduce stress levels.
Fitness means independence for longer. Fitness is for anyone at any age. It is not only for the young. Fitness can be improved at any age 30s, 40s , 50s , 60s etc etc. It is never too late to exercise. Fitness is even more important if you have underlying health problems. Fitness plus a positive mental attitude may reduce the risk of dementia. (Positive mental attitude is a subject I will cover in the future and is one that is very close to my heart.)
When I say that fitness can be improved at any age I mean it absolutely and as an Instructor I see proof of this daily. Fitness levels start to drop in a person’s 20s. This could be due to smoking, drinking, staying up late, eating unhealthy foods, lack of exercise, stress of entering a work environment, lack of confidence and insecurity. All of these factors can cause disease later on in life and affect the ageing process in a negative way.
In conclusion a negative attitude towards life and lack of exercise can lead to depression and isolation. Exercise performed in a relaxed manner, with a positive attitude, with no high expectations of your own ability and the ability of others performed at your own pace is the key to improved fitness levels. Taking things too seriously is detrimental to yourself and to others. Enjoyment is the key.
Fitness + Positive Attitude= Long Healthy Life
( When you exercise please inform your Instructor immediately of any aches or pains so that they can give you alternative exercises. And take their advice! It is okay to take time off training if that is what your body needs. It is okay to sit down and have a rest in class. Be sensible.)