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Physical activity goes beyond your waist size

How to Age Well Through Physical Activity?

To age well is to be able to continue to enjoy life in a changing body.  The size of our waist circumference is not the only motivating factor to resume physical activity. In order to grow older and stay healthy, regular physical activity plays an essential role, both in maintaining physical capacities and autonomy, and in fighting the negative feelings associated with grieving for the person you once were.

Ageing frequently leads to a decrease in social life.  This gradual isolation increases the risk of depression, promotes physical inactivity and leads to a loss of self-esteem. It also causes sleep disorders and the use of psychotropic drugs, which can have a negative impact on memory, language and thought organization.

Did you know that sitting for less than three consecutive hours a day would increase life expectancy by two years?   According to the Attitude & Prévention, association des assureurs francais.

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It’s not that I don’t want to exercise to lose weight.  It’s just that after a full day of work and chores, my entire body is in pain and I can’t move.  Right now, my lower back is killing me.  Sorry about the moaning, I just needed to vent.

When the Motivation Is No Where to be Found

We are told again and again that we have to remain active, but our increasingly busy lives sometimes force us to put aside activities that we once appreciated.

Your choice of Activity 

It is essential to choose an activity that you enjoy.  If you are the type to register at the gym twice a year (September and January in many cases) and you don’t ever show up, well, you have to face the fact that it’s not for you.

On the other hand, if you are always ready for a hike, bike ride maybe you should intensify your efforts to plan daily sessions in these activities instead of stubbornly going to the gym or other more formal work out.

During childhood and adolescence, physical activity is not a chore; it’s fun! So why should it be different when you become an adult?

We already have daily constraints, whether it is going to work in a whirlwind of traffic, occupying a position that more or less meets our professional expectations, living in the city instead of the countryside, etc.  Since the list of constraints is never completely empty and why add another one?

I suggest to do a little introspection of your activities between the ages of 7 and 17.  What comes out of it?  What where your interests were at that time. What has come in the way of you practicing them nowadays?  Lack of time – we no longer take the time.  Lack of equipment – make it a priority to budget for this. Your current physical condition no longer allows you to do it – so we’ll talk about it later.

In many cases of injury, if the “person” in question had been “in shape” well it would not have happened.  I will talk about the risk of injury and fitness in a future blog.

What equipment do you need to practice your activity?

Equipment; nowadays good but used equipment readily available on the net, Market Place, etc..  The time to buy only new is over and it’s not green either.  If you take a little time to look it up chances are you will find everything you need to do your activity.

When it comes to group courses; the programs offered by recreational centres (often affiliated with Municipalities) are more affordable than private courses, etc.  Here again, do your homework and you’ll find out.  A subscription giving you access to a multitude of activities is even better; you may develop an interest in a new activity or reconnect with old flame!

I don’t have time!

This factor is undoubtedly the most important and often the causes of abandon. I am sorry to say that in my vocabulary the words – I don’t have time – are no longer spoken.  I scratched them off!  I now use – I no longer take the time to… – and every time I say them I get a little heartache.  It makes me think, every time.  Until I decided to take the time, this time so precious to me, my family and friends, this time that passes really quickly and that I will never be able to catch up again.

Solo, duo or group?  Is your chosen activity done alone, in pairs or in groups?  The more people you add, the more factors of failure multiply. You must take this into consideration.

Location matters 

Also consider where you can do your activity.  For example, a bicycle ride is accessible almost everywhere.  A kayak trip…. a little less.

The benefits of this activity for YOU

Establish your personal objectives: short – medium – long-term.

Your current physical condition establish measurable factors.

How to get motivated

Stay on course – slowly but surely.  Your short, medium and long-term objectives will help you to be motivated.  It is imperative to set goals for YOU and you alone, not to adhere to your spouse’s objectives.

In order to validate my statements, I decided to take up a 21-day personal challenge, simply to prove to myself that my theory and that of many others is good, fair and effective.

In my case, the off-trail snowmobile and cross-country skiing season is just around the corner. To practice these sports, I must consider getting back into shape because I run the risk of getting injured.  At my age it’s not an option.

I have a vivid memory of my grandmother falling on the ice during a family skating session.  She was 50 years old!  She suffered a fracture to her elbow; ambulance, emergency, surgery, screws, etc… No thank you not for me. I live in a Nordic country, where the winter is long but the conditions for these sports are almost ideal. Yesterday, we had our first snow fall!  No more time to waste.  So I’m going for a simple choice of exercises.

I have identified two short-term objectives: more flexibility and better core strength for a better balance.

My exercises will be as follows:

The Board for better abdominal muscle tone

  1. Put your hands on the floor and raise your whole body, as if you were going to do a pump exercise…
  2. Tighten the buttocks and abs…
  3. Keep your neck and spine straight by looking at a fixed point on the floor above your hands…
  4. Hold the position for 20 seconds.

I add 10 minutes of sitting exercise:

Gainage remise en forme

In conclusion, the motivation for returning to physical activity is for some people a daily struggle.  I believe that setting realistic goals is part of the key to success.

That’s it! I wish myself an excellent season of snowmobiling and cross-country skiing!  I’ll be back in three weeks with a follow-up on my progress.

Louise Therrien ND

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