Ageing: Challenges, Opportunities, and Choices

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” 

Sophia Loren

I’m Barrie, I’m 87 and I warmly welcome you to my monthly blog Over50andfit.ca

Question: Can you prevent the ageing process? Answer: No, but you can make choices that improve your ability to maintain an active lifestyle to do the things you enjoy.

Barrie working out in fitness studio. Fitness over 50

My purpose is to examine the compelling issues which arise as seniors age, and to suggest solutions that could help them function more effectively and grow older with grace.

Growing older involves accepting and celebrating the changes that accompany ageing. Instead of viewing these changes as unfavourable, we can gracefully embrace them as a natural part of life.

While we may lament that we cannot perform at the same level as we once did. But there is a huge amount we can still accomplish! We can’t “control” the effects of ageing, but we can certainly “influence” it. We have the opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves at any age level.

The second half of our life can bring some of our most rewarding decades. As we grow in wisdom and patience, we can become more confident than our younger self.

Increasing Longevity

Statistics Canada reported in 2022 that there were 7.3 million Canadians 65 or over. By 2030 – less than a decade – this will soar to 9.5 million. An astonishing leap of 30%. This longevity is due to: better nutrition, improved hygiene, improvements in modern medicine, and more access to health care. You may have to re-invent yourself as your lifespan continues to expand.

Living Longer with a Fulfilling Lifestyle

Perhaps the most important function in gracefully ageing is to embrace a positive attitude. Little can be achieved if we espouse a negative perspective. Furthermore, the following suggestions could make a significant impact.

Two seniors on bicycles
  • Exercise regularly

Another crucial component in enhancing living style. Regular exercise can improve physical, mental and emotional functions immensely. A plethora of videos can be found online providing exercise options. Coach Kozac is an excellent instructor in these videos. Even 10 minutes of daily exercise can have a beneficial effect.

  • Eat healthy

Our nutritional needs change as we grow older. We have to be mindful of our eating habits. The Canadian Food Guide recommends 50% of your daily food should be vegetables and fruit, 25% whole grain foods, and 25% protein foods. WebMD suggests nutrients our body needs as we age.

  • Engage in new activities

Novel activities can give you a new impetus: pickle ball, lawn bowling, dancing, water aerobics, indoor bike spinning, Nordic walking, setting up a home gym. Eventually, you will find an exercise routine with your name stamped on it!

  • New educational experiences

There is no reason ever to stop learning. Any one of these could be a catalyst for further learning and improving your cognitive function: learning a musical instrument, studying a new language, gourmet cooking, joining a book club, online courses, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles. There’s a myriad of options.

  • Volunteer in your neighbourhood

Not only will you be expanding your social network, but also by volunteering you will be fulfilling much-needed services to others.

Volunteering can help you gain new skills, make friends, and add to your wellbeing.

  • Connect with new people

Many studies reveal a clear link between strong social ties and a longer and more productive lifestyle. As you grow older, it’s even more imperative to broaden your network of friends. The importance of socialization cannot be overemphasized.

  • Deep Breathing

The benefits of diaphragmatic breathing are incalculable: improved immunity, digestion and posture, lower blood pressure, decreased stress, relief from pain and air more able to flow into your body. I have recently begun a daily deep breathing practice, with good effect. I have chosen to breathe deeply, hold my breath, and slowly release it.

  • Health examinations

Schedule regular checkups with your family doctor, dentist and optometrist.

McMaster University presents a unique perspective on optimal ageing at its Optimal Aging Portal. This site also gives an informative insight into healthy ageing. WebMD documents new research on the effects of positive beliefs about ageing being good for memory.

Don’t just live long, but live well.

I would be delighted to hear any suggestions you have, and answer any of your questions at Over50andfit.ca

Yous in fitness,

Barrie Street

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