Ever heard the saying “use it or lose it?” Well what about “move it or lose it?” Because if you are aging there is no way you age going to get through this phase of your life successfully if that doesn’t become your new mantra. Our bodies were designed to move, not sit or lie down all the time. If we refer back to the hunters and gatherers, they survived by continual movement and the last time I looked our bodies still function in the same manner, so movement is still what it was designed for.
Colin Milner, the Vancouver-based founder of the International Council on Active Aging is undoubtedly recognized by the World Economic Forum as being “one of the most innovative and influential minds” on the planet when it comes to aging, Milner is inspired by his grandmother who is currently an amazing 106 years old!
“The research shows that between the ages of 35 and 75, we lose about 50 percent of our strength and 75 percent of our power if we are inactive,” says Milner. “That’s one of the reasons you see many people, as they get older, struggle to walk upright, because they are not strong. Their steps are farther apart and they are just not stable. Any kind of movement is important,” he stresses. “Things like tai chi are great for balance. Dancing is fantastic for balance and your brain, because when you’re dancing you are having to think about all the moves you’re doing.”
Keeping Moving For Health
“Physical activity is important for everyone, regardless of their health status,” says Dr. Michelle Porter, director of the Centre on Aging at the University of Manitoba.
“Earlier in adulthood, physical activity prevents many chronic diseases (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis) and is also important for good mental health,” says Dr. Porter. “Later in life, physical activity can be helpful for maintaining bone health, increasing muscle mass, strength, mobility, function and independence, as well as preventing falls and achieving good mental health.”
The World Health Organization’s World Report on Ageing and Health, released in 2015, defines healthy aging as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.” It describes ‘functional ability’ as “the health-related attributes that enable people to be and do what they have reason to value, which includes their intrinsic capability as well as the environment they live in.”
Dr. Porter also states, “to emphasize that the type of activity often comes down to what someone will be able to do on an ongoing basis over the long term. As a society, we do not want to create barriers to being physically active.” She also advises that if you have concerns or complicated medical histories, then you should seek out the advice of a certified exercise professional.
So What Should We Be Focusing On?
Milner sees four key trends. “It’s all about function, helping people remain functionally healthy – their physical, cognitive and social health. Another is technology: How is it going to help you keep that function? Wellness and health and movement are becoming part of the lifestyle. And finally, what are you personally interested in? I’m doing this because I enjoy it.”