I was invited to a 90th birthday party in Scotland recently, and I feel privileged to have been included in such a life-affirming celebration.
Wow, 90! It was rare for anyone to reach this age when I was growing up. And although it’s a bit more common now, I think it’s still a great achievement. Or, in the case of this 90 year old, to reach this age AND have a big party to celebrate!
When people live into their 90s and beyond they are often asked, “What is the secret?” Of course, there could be any number of factors that influence the length of your life but one thing I’m sure of is that regular, moderate exercise is a fundamental part of living well.
This 90 year old is a great role model for me. When she was young exercise was unavoidable: there were no trains, planes and precious few automobiles available in the little seaside town she called home. She walked or biked pretty much everywhere. It’s always been a big part of her life: in the 1950s she lived in a suburb of Los Angeles for a while and was astonished to find that nobody seemed to walk anywhere. It didn’t stop her taking regular walks around her neighbourhood, but she did find herself having to explain what she was doing to some suspicious police officers. Times change, and the Los Angeles suburb surely must abound in recreation trails by now.
Despite aches and pains and some age related medical problems she still exercises gently every day she can, finding opportunity in yoga classes, aquanastics or a simple walk around the local park. When weather gets in the way she keeps busy in her home. Age may have slowed her down and limited some of her previous exercise choices, but it’s an integral part of her self-concept.
I encourage everyone to include exercise in their daily routine, whether it’s simply walking to the subway instead of taking the bus, or cycling to work when the weather is good.
Dr. Evans from St Michael’s hospital in Toronto has a lovely video encouraging us to exercise daily, called 23 and ½ hours. www.evanshealthlab.com
The 90th birthday party was wonderful. Raucous family and smiling friends gathered to wish her well and enjoy the achievement with her. She has many friends with whom she stays in contact, and for whom she makes room in her life. I see exercise as one of these great friends: perhaps that’s her secret!
R. Sian Owen PT