EMBRACING CHANGE August 2022: What is the Definition of Ageing Gracefully?

What is the definition of aging gracefully? The outside versus the inside can be dramatically different. Actions, thoughts and behaviours impact our mind, body and spirit. There are different types of aging. Chronological aging is simply the number of years lived while primary aging is universal and inevitable. Reading glasses and a few strands of grey start the wheels in motion. Changes are subtle and slowly over time may dramatically alter our day to day life. Tying shoes, a once simple task turns troublesome. It’s easier to blame others, residing to the notion our current health status is courtesy of the family tree. Truthfully, all the choices we made and make day in and day out directly impact our current overall well-being. In hindsight, it may have been holistically helpful to have dined daily on a menu of mainly fresh produce and exercised more often. There’s no point in regretting smoking or skipping sunscreen this late to the party. Some people are only 65 chronologically but so focused on medications, medical appointments and convinced aging is negative, the body repeatedly releases the stress hormone cortisol. Long-term stress creates inflammation in the body and long-term inflammation plays a critical role in various diseases such as atherosclerosis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. How you handle daily life helps or hinder the aging process. Do you want to sit on the sidelines or dance like nobody is watching?

Biological or physiological age refers to how old a person seems. You can’t turn back Father Time but you can certainly wind the clock back up! It’s time to add pep to your step. Call on your inner child and have more fun. Stumble through a salsa class, color outside the lines, learn a new language and go for a golf lesson already! Increasing your energy output lowers your perceived age. Wrinkles merely tell a story of a life lived and not an accurate age.

 Functional aging combines every component of the aging process. There is no better moment than now to revise your nutrition and bring ease to your regular routine by an improved fitness level. Change is never easy but even the most minuscule modification manifests in a can-do mindset. Exercise is a key component to help live your best life. There’s a wide range of fitness levels within aging communities. Have you been a cheerleader for others your whole life or still a weekend warrior with the physiotherapist on speed dial? 

Over the age of 65, whether you are staying active or starting new, current Canadian guidelines recommend setting aside at least 2.5 hours a week for participating in moderate to vigorous activities. Age, level or diagnosed or potential health concerns should be taken into account. Suffering from joint pain can be unbearable but even 5 to 15 minute workouts provide heaps of health and fitness benefits. From a stroll to a power walk to chair yoga or rowing, there’s a laundry list of options to try. Swimming lengths or water aerobics supports the body and targets all muscles simultaneously. For now, enjoy the sunshine and start walking ten minutes daily. Walking builds muscle and bone strength as nature’s treadmill is full of hills and valleys, laying the foundation for incorporating weight-training.  An experienced trainer may use dumbbells, resistance bands, free weights, a stability ball, and your body weight alone during sessions. Strength training supports day to day life. Functional training translates to standing up more easily and carrying extra grocery bags into the house. Increasing muscle and bone strength improves posture and balance. A greater range of motion and stability gained from a stronger core helps prevent a slip or fall. Spending just two days a week incorporating resistance training is enough to make a significant difference. Start with a maximum of 30 minutes in the gym. It’s important to warm up for approximately 5 minutes, stay hydrated and take a 1 to 2 minute break in-between the exercise sets. Feeling dizzy or out of breathe is a red flag and the sign to slow down. Timeouts in between sets are a great opportunity to check your heart rate. It’s important to understand the difference between a target heart rate and maximum heart rate compared to an active and resting heart rate. An experienced trainer will monitor your working heart rate throughout a session. Self-monitoring with a fitness-based watch is an option.

Embracing Change is essential and linked to living your best life. The number of candles will keep climbing but it’s never too late to take a giant leap towards a longevity based lifestyle. There’s a difference between being old, acting old and thinking old. If you are treading this article, it’s a sign to slip on sneakers and build a healthier body. Stronger muscles and bones can help turn back the biological clock! Physical Fitness is the cornerstone to living a long healthy, strong and vibrant life.

*Always consult your MD, ND or health practitioner before beginning any health program. 

Mercedes Kay Gold is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer and a published writer who loves helping others live their best life when not spending time with her children and grandson Theodore. 

READ my ARTICLE at EMBRACING CHANGE MAGAZINE

Sources: https://psychologydictionary.org/primary-aging

https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-chronological-age-2223384

https://www.canada.ca/en/publichealth

https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/staying-active-with-joint-pain

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5476783/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/better-balance-simple-exercises-to-improve-stability-and-prevent-falls