Health is wealth

Categories: Elderly, Health, Life, Nutrition

Can you get down and get up from the floor with ease?

Can you crawl on your hands and knees?

If you are age five or under, then the answer is probably yes to both, but if you are an adult then it might be a slightly different response. For those of you who have built a model, followed a knitting pattern, or trained for an event, it’s likely that you will have started with the end very much insight. But when it comes to our body and life choices, how many of us have a true vision of the golden years and how many of us plan in advance?

Do you view your retirement as being active and happy, stimulated and fulfilled, or in pain and discomfort, relying on others and waiting for the day to end?  A depressing thought, but one that new evidence shows can be taken care of if we do our best to look after our health, body, and mind.

The notion that exercise can “reverse” ageing is no longer reliant on anecdotal evidence, with intense and enlightening research worldwide. A study by Canadian and American researchers discovered that exercise can partially help halt and undo the ageing process at a cellular level.  Studying the effects of six months of strength training in elderly volunteers aged 65 and older, they discovered that the exercise program improved the seniors’ strength, by up to 50 percent.

This came as no surprise to the team, but their greatest discovery was that the ‘genetic fingerprint’ of the elderly volunteers who had followed the strength training program was reversed nearly to that of younger people. In other words, their cellular age resembled that of a younger group.

These findings show it’s never too late to start boosting your longevity with exercise. Co-author Soren Brage of the University of Cambridge added, “It’s like putting money in the bank.” Keeping with the concept of finance, consider this: Every day we take a little bit more from ourselves and we openly invite others to help themselves to a piece of us, yet we never fully repay the debt.

The exercise we do, the food we eat, our lifestyle and attitude to life, can add to the deficit we have created. Our physical/emotional body fluctuates like the stock market and can for some, be out of balance all year. So, is it feasible that one day we may restore the balance and return to credit, or are we destined to be overdrawn? If you have been a student or know someone who has, then you will be aware that for many, living from an overdraft can soon become a way of life. The student grant at the start of term puts you back in the black, but within weeks the black turns back to red and you are left pleading with the bank manager.


Starting a career and setting up a home, more often than not, extends us all beyond our means. Fortunately, mortgages, loans, and numerous credit cards can ‘help us’ through difficult times. Finances can have a huge impact on the way we feel about ourselves and we are often tempted to borrow now and payback later. The same can be said of our bodies, we abuse or neglect our body in our youth only to repay the debt in our senior years.  Illness, pain and uncomfortable movement are familiar complaints of the 50+ age group. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


Take an A4 piece of paper and write your name as large as you
can. Find a quiet place and clear some space around you. Now
think of a typical day, from waking to retiring for bed and all the
activities and interactions that take place on that day.
For every action and interaction, tear a piece of your paper. For
every hour that you are sitting or standing still rip off another
piece. The more stressful the demand upon you the larger the
piece of paper you tear.
By the end of this process, you should find at your feet a pile
of confetti. You are in pieces. How are you going to put yourself
back together again?


In the short term, our bodies can cope with the above, daily, and possibly weekly. However, if we continue to subject our bodies to stress, then the body will cry out for attention in some form or other. We must find time to fully recharge our batteries, recoup, relax and recreate. The weekend is no longer the sanctuary it once was, with the demands of home improvement, friends, family and Sunday shopping trips. There is little time for leisure and recuperation, just another list of tasks that must be completed before the working week begins. Our summer holiday can also leave us feeling jaded, and we often hear of people returning home, only to need another holiday to get over the last one.


So, where do we make investments and how do we invest wisely? It has been suggested that as a nation we spend up to £5.8billion a year on unused fitness memberships and gym equipment. With around 23 percent of the UK population possessing a gym membership and only 12 percent using the gym regularly at an average cost of £35 per month, that’s a lot of
poor investing.

The 2018 Public Health England survey reported that people in England were becoming so inactive that 40% of people surveyed aged between 40 and 60 walked briskly for less than 10 minutes a month. This ‘couch potato lifestyle’ could be causing up to 70,000 deaths in the UK annually and with 30 percent of adults in England spending at least six hours a day being sedentary at work – rising to 37 percent at weekends, it’s little wonder that sitting down has been labelled as the ‘new smoking’. Unfortunately for many, we have jobs where we are required to sit for extended periods of the day. Even if we go to the gym on a Saturday morning, our complete lack of activity for that week will have taken its toll.


What is required is low to moderate activity for longer or sustained periods of time. View being sedentary as the enemy. This point is backed by a recent Swedish study that concluded that physical activity
was the number one contributor to longevity. Adding extra years is one thing but adding life to those years is another. Even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years, getting moving can help boost your energy and maintain your independence as well as benefiting your mind, mood, and memory.


If we look at the bigger picture and imagine ourselves aged 90, still physically active and mentally alert, it will draw our attention to the fact that whatever experience we show our body today, is going to affect our body tomorrow. We must prepare for our future now and seek to readdress the imbalances in our lives. It is true that your piece of A4 paper will be in pieces most days, but if you can take responsibility for your own health and well-being, you will limit the harmful effect that stress, lack of exercise and sitting can place upon your body, joints, and overall health. Perhaps we can repay the debt?

Andy Ciaravella

Health & Fitness Coach


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