So far this week you have read how you can keep the aging process at bay with the diet. Today the focus is on the other part of the comparison exercise.
But don't panic: I don't expect you to start training for marathons or lifting unreachable heavy weights – although there is absolutely no reason why someone in their 70s or older could not do this with the right training.
For most of us, exercise doesn't have to be that intensive. It can be something that fits very easily into our daily lives – and can be completely transforming.
So why do I think I am the best person to tell you all this?
For most of us, exercise doesn't have to be that intensive. It can be something that fits very easily into our daily lives – and can be completely transforming
Well, I have been working in public health for over 40 years, from helping people quit smoking to developing screening programs for the elderly.
I have written books on disease prevention in the elderly, helped develop NHS Choices – the website that informs patients about their health – and I was also the Chief Knowledge Officer of the NHS.
I even wrote a book called The Antidote To Aging, which looks at the scientific data that shows that your age does not have to dictate your physical health.
I am a true advocate for people who make choices about their own health and a true believer that everyone can make really positive differences in the quality and length of their lives, with just a few changes in their lifestyle.
And I'm not just talking about the conversation, I'm also walking. I am 75 years old and I can still cycle three kilometers to the station every day. Your age, in numbers, cannot be denied – but it should not be a cause for gloom.
It is a reason for partying and taking action to cope with what cannot be denied – namely the effects of the aging process, which do not suddenly strike when you turn 50 or 60, but actually started around the age of 30.
However, aging is not the cause of problems in your 70s and older, unless you allow your health and well-being to be controlled.
You can take control by reducing your risk of developing disease, becoming fitter and adopting a positive and optimistic attitude to life, with all its chances and problems – even if you already have a long-term condition.
I recently attended a friend's 100th birthday party. The birthday boy gave a wonderful speech and said, among other things, that he had flown for the first time to Israel a few months earlier, together with his companion, and had a long-standing ambition to swim in the Dead Sea. And his choice of the present? An iPad.
Admittedly, it is exceptional to be so lively at 100, but if you reach 90 and are relatively free from the effects of illness, you can live alone, travel by public transport, maybe even drive a car and be interested in current Affairs.
So how come we all know about & # 39; old & # 39; 60 year olds and sprightly 80 year olds?
There is of course no denial of the existence of the aging process and that there are only two phases in life: growing and developing, and aging.
The turning point varies from person to person. However, there is a biological speed with which we, even with the best will in the world, a spotless diet and daily sessions with a personal trainer, can escape powerlessly.
And that is the best possible fall. For example, the speed with which we lose the power to climb a steep slope is probably even faster than this.
I call the difference between the best possible rate of decline and one's actual rate of decline the fitness gap.
It was something that I first described in an article in the British Medical Journal in 1982 when my work with older people in Oxford convinced me that for many of them their problems were caused or exacerbated by inactivity and loss of fitness.
Because the speed at which we lose our condition is not determined by genes or age, but by social factors such as the decisions we make about our lives and the pressure that affects us.
For example, for my first job in public health care, I had to own a car, whereas until then I had lived on my bike.
There are two important points about the fitness gap.
The first is that an inability to climb stairs at the age of 80, or to go to the toilet on time, can only result from a loss of fitness, not from the aging process.
That is the difference between being young and older.
If you are young, lack of fitness only influences your lifestyle if you want to play tennis or soccer, for example, but later it can be the difference between dependence and independence.
The second important point – and the good news – is that the fitness gap can be reduced at any age.
And you're lucky – on the following pages you'll learn how to reduce the gap by improving your fitness.
Take it from me, the results can definitely be life-changing.
CAN EVERYONE TRAIN?
In the past it was customary to recommend rest to the elderly, or to people who were sick or had just left the hospital, but nowadays activity is promoted and even prescribed.
In most hospitals, patients who have had a heart attack will consult with an exercise therapist before being discharged.
They are then expected to come to a gym two weeks later to start their rehabilitation on the treadmill.
Even if you develop a long-term condition such as heart disease or cancer, fitness remains important – in fact, it becomes even more vital.
In the past it was common to recommend rest to the elderly, whether they were sick or had just left the hospital, but nowadays activity is promoted and even prescribed
Heart disease is the only long-term condition in which physical exercise, especially vigorous exercise, involves a risk. Therefore, contact your doctor before you start a new regimen.
Different circumstances cause different problems. For example, if you have had a stroke or developed severe arthritis, exercise will be more difficult.
But there are specialized physiotherapists, skilled in helping people with disabilities, who can design an exercise program to help you restore strength, endurance, flexibility and skill – not just during physiotherapy, but for the rest of your life.
Always contact your doctor before making major lifestyle changes or adopting a new fitness routine.
The four keys to stay in shape
From parking further from the stores to sports with a stretchable tire, how to develop endurance, get well soon, skill and flexibility …
Fitness is not just something for & # 39; young & # 39; people; fitness is much more important for people in their years & # 39; 70 and older than for people in their years & # 39; 20.
That's because it can make the difference between being able to dress without help or not being able to reach the toilet in time when nature calls urgently.
Geriatrists – specialists in older patients – know that although it is harder to & # 39; lost & # 39; recovering skills, such as restoring your balance when you stumble, or walking fast enough to get to the toilet on time, in the 80s it is still possible. You can even do it in your 90s and beyond.
A project in 2014 showed that people with a sitting lifestyle and reduced mobility showed a significant improvement in mobility and independence by participating in a home exercise program.
If you take action every year to get fitter during your 50s, 60s and 70s, you will reach the age of 80 or 90 in a much better physical and mental condition.
An indicator of fitness is your wrist.
Fitness is not just something for & # 39; young & # 39; people; fitness is much more important for people in their years & # 39; 70 and older than for people in their years & # 39; 20
In theory, the lower the pulse, the fitter you are. But because some diseases and medications can cause a slow heartbeat, fitness is best measured by the extent to which the body & # 39; upset & # 39; is when it is asked to do extra work, such as running up or climbing a hill.
The fitter you are, the better you feel when your body is asked to do something special, and the less your body will have to change to cope with physical and psychological challenges.
In fitness everything revolves around the four S & # 39; s: endurance, strength, skills (balance) and flexibility – and a fifth factor, psychology, which we discuss on the back page.
And don't worry, this does not have to dominate your life. The only thing you have to do is take ten minutes a day, mainly focused on strength, flexibility and skill, and then three longer sessions per week, walking, cycling or dancing, mainly focused on endurance.
The beauty of this time investment is not only the long-term benefit, but also the immediate benefit, because you also feel comfortable with it.
This is what you need to know about the four S & # 39; s and the small adjustments that you can make every day to improve them, to counteract the effects of aging.
Endurance is mainly the result of the way your heart, lungs and muscles work together while walking, cycling or mowing the grass.
If you have good endurance, you can also meet the demand for extra oxygen if, for example, you have to climb a flight of stairs.
The easiest way to improve and maintain endurance is by increasing the amount you walk and trying to find ways to make yourself breathless every day, for example by choosing the stairs instead of the elevator.
It's not about doing something unusual, it can be about parking further away from the stores, or two stairs at the same time.
The goal is to do something every day, which means you can breathe faster, but you can still talk, at least five days a week, and then supplement it by going swimming or dancing, or playing tennis, boules, or golf – everything that makes you out of breath at least once a week.
Traditionally, people have recommended 30 minutes as the required time for walking, and if you can do it, this is a good time to do at least five days a week every day. But don't let perfection be the enemy of at least doing some practice.
However, a lack of time should not be an excuse to prevent exercise, because even when you are working hard, you can redesign your day to walk more, for example by parking farther from work, by getting off the bus. a few stops early, or simply by taking a brisk walk three times a day – say ten minutes after every meal.
GET WELL SOON
With a bit of luck a smart friend has given you fitness equipment for your 70th birthday, but otherwise you should consider buying two items to increase and maintain muscle strength: a pair of dumbbells (1kg, 3kg or 5kg) and a resistance band.
You do not have to pay more than £ 10 for each pair of dumbbells. Weights are best for strengthening your upper limbs, forearms, arms and shoulders. We're not talking about bulking here – you don't get an Arnold Schwarzenegger body right away – and these exercises are just as important for women as they are for men.
Meanwhile, a resistance band is like a large, strong elastic band and can only cost £ 3 online.
You can do almost anything with a fitness band that you can do with weights, and they are much easier to pack.
The most important ability to maintain and improve is the ability to stay upright. Traps increase in frequency after the age of 70.
Most are at home and can cause fractures. So why do we fall more often as we get older?
To begin with, our sense of balance gets worse as we get older, partly due to a deterioration of our inner ear, and sometimes as a side effect of medication (for example, blood pressure medication).
Our muscles also become weaker and cannot recover the vertical position quickly, and we also lose our ability to coordinate all the actions that must work together to stabilize ourselves when we stumble or stumble.
All types of sports and active hobbies are useful in the fight to stay upright.
For example, you can go dancing or sign up for a local plan for environmental improvement. Activity helps the brain to coordinate muscles, which in turn improves movement.
But there are specific ways to improve your balance (see panel on the right), and your ability to recover from a stumbling block, thus reducing your risk of falls and fractures.
If you look at a chicken leg or, even better, a leg of lamb, you see a white, shiny fabric that divides the red bundles of muscle fibers and connects them to the bones near the joints.
This white tissue is a blend of elastin and collagen. It loses some elasticity due to aging, as the balance of elastin to collagen decreases, but the good news is that most of the loss of flexibility is due to loss of fitness due to inactivity, not aging – so we can all do something about it.
Suppleness is probably the most undervalued part of fitness and the aspect that matters most as we get older. Much of the sport and training that we do as younger people focuses on strength, endurance, and skill, not flexibility, and it shows. To regain and increase flexibility, you must stretch your joints and muscles.
CAN WORK HELP REDUCE THE RISK OF DEMENTIA?
A healthy lifestyle can drastically reduce the risk of developing dementia by almost a third, even if it occurs in the family.
That is the optimistic message from the latest scientific research, which shows, experts say, that we are not doomed to develop dementia because of our genes.
Exercise, eating a balanced diet, not smoking, and viewing your alcohol intake are all important factors for reducing your risk, according to an Exeter University team.
Approximately 850,000 Britons live with dementia, causing memory, problem-solving, language and perception deterioration beyond normal aging.
Dementia is caused by various diseases and injuries that damage the brain.
A healthy lifestyle can drastically reduce the risk of developing dementia by almost a third, even if it occurs in the family
Various factors can influence whether a person develops dementia; age, gender, lifestyle and genes all play a role.
Although most of these factors are beyond our control, our lifestyle – and specifically how active we are – can make a big difference to our risk, scientists say.
Several studies have focused on the dementia-protective benefits of regular exercise in middle-aged or elderly people.
Until now, however, it remained unclear whether lifestyle changes could have the same benefit for those whose genes make them susceptible to dementia. Now the latest research suggests that they do that.
The Exeter study has followed 200,000 people in their 60s for eight years and checked whether they had genes that put them at risk for dementia.
The study found that those who indicated a healthy lifestyle – for example, they walked or cycled two and a half hours a week, ate more than three servings of fruit and vegetables a day and rarely had meat or alcohol processed – had about 30 percent less risk of dementia compared to people with an unhealthy lifestyle, regardless of a high or low genetic predisposition.
Reducing dementia by a third would have a huge impact in older age groups where significantly more people have dementia – possibly equal to hundreds of thousands of people, according to professor David Llewellyn, a senior neuro-epidemiology and digital health lecturer who led the Exeter study.
HOW YOU THINK YOURSELF
Psychological fitness is just as important as physical fitness to attack the aging process. Finally, just last month, decades of research showed that optimists live longer than pessimists. That's because what you believe matters.
For too many people, the process of aging seems to be slower, more careful, less interested in the world around them, to live more in the past and to complain about the passing of the good old days.
We all know people like this, but they have probably always been more negative and pessimistic in their attitude.
In addition, some of the changes that occur and the depression that accompanies them are the result of being overly influenced by the prevailing negative stereotypes of old age.
But our later years are not just a wait and see game – decline is not inevitable. The older you get, the greater the need for a positive mental attitude and some positive action.
Here are some of my best tips for improving your psychological fitness. . .
Psychological fitness is just as important as physical fitness to attack the aging process
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Getting enough sleep helps to reduce stress and make the mind work properly. The amount of sleep that people need varies, but many of us need more sleep as we get older.
This need is often exacerbated by the side effects of some of the drugs that are often prescribed, for example, for blood pressure and heart disease. To help you get a good night's sleep, you must:
■ Set a goal, for example seven hours a night.
■ Avoid naps during the day if sleeping is a problem at night.
■ Exercise more during the day.
■ Learn the mindfulness technique (see box) to prevent ideas from falling through your mind when trying to fall asleep or when you wake up at night.
■ Drink less fluid after 6 p.m. to avoid night trips to the toilet.
■ Have a regular ritual to go to bed at the same time, without pre-exciting movies or disturbing news images, and choose a quiet book.
A major aging study in Europe emphasized the importance of & # 39; continuous involvement in physical and social activities & # 39; for good aging, and recommended that, far from retiring, involvement in life and society should be the norm for aging the population.
In addition to the steps you can take yourself, there is increasing evidence that involvement with other people maintains and improves intellectual functioning.
The way it does this is not yet clear, but it may be the need to defend and defend a position, as well as the need to use your mind.
It can also be the interaction with other people that stimulates the mind, and that enhances motivation and morality, just as an athlete performs better for a crowd.
For example, you can work as a volunteer on a subject that you attach great importance to; the charity Age UK is a great organization that offers a wide range of such possibilities.
Or take chances to help people older than yourself, for example, the Silver Line (thesilverline.org.uk) is a free telephone helpline that offers advice and friendship to the elderly 24 hours a day, every day.
Much of the care for the frail elderly is provided by volunteering from people in the & # 39; 60 and & # 39; 70.
Now there is a new charity, the Center for Aging Better, which emphasizes the large contribution of older employees.
It is good to be concerned about keeping young people unemployed, but there are many jobs for which older people are well suited and which are unattractive for many young people.
The & # 39; Age of No Retirement & # 39; is a campaign to encourage people to continue working, while a new start-up company called Seniors Helping Seniors (seniors helpingseniors.com) specifically employs people who are older.
AND THERE IS GOOD NEWS …
Much of the negative image of old age, which can affect your sense of well-being if you believe it too strongly, stems from outdated research that compared people aged 70 to 20, which is simply not logical.
However, new research has shown that older people deal better with emotions and stress, are more stable and better at making complex decisions.
It has also been found that some cognitive skills, such as general knowledge and vocabulary, are not affected by age or even improve. So if you are going to believe any research, believe in the most recent studies.
LEARN HOW MANY TO BE
If you think a moment of mindfulness would help you sleep better, this is how to do it:
■ Sit in a comfortable place, but upright, not on a couch.
■ Focus on the weight of your feet on the floor; listen to your breathing.
■ Still looking at something, such as a view or a picture on the wall.
■ Focus on your breathing and tell yourself about ten times & # 39; inhale & # 39; and & # 39; exhale & # 39 ;.
■ Stay in this position for five minutes and ensure that you remain aware of your body and environment.
■ If depressive thoughts come to your mind, imagine them as if they were outside of you, such as an advertisement on a billboard.
■ Repeat the breathing exercise. It sounds simple, but there is already evidence that it works, from research and the experience of others.
For more information, visit nhs.uk and search for mindfulness.
- Adapted by CLAIRE COLEMAN from SOD SEVENTY! THE GUIDE FOR GOOD LIFE by Muir Gray published by Bloomsbury for £ 12.99
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