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Good Health - Here’s to your good health
01 Jan 2016

Here’s to your good health, by The Selwyn Foundation

As the saying goes, “use it or lose it”, and this is particularly true as we get older.

Staying physically active can improve the length and quality of your life, keeping you more agile, mentally acute and minimising falls. You don’t have to be able to run a marathon, but 30 minutes of exercise a day makes a difference.

A US study found that 75 minutes of brisk walking per week – as opposed to staying sedentary – equates to an extra 1.8 years of life expectancy. The study also found that people whose weight is above the recommended level still benefit from physical activity. It seems that whatever your starting point, and however much exercise you do, the more you do it, the longer you live.

King’s College in London studied 115 cycling enthusiasts aged 55-79, testing how fast they could stand up from a chair, walk three metres, turn, walk back and sit down. The result? Even the oldest participants in the study scored levels that were within the norm for healthy young adults. When you’re fit, age really is just a number.

Emeritus Professor Norman Lazarus says, “Inevitably, our bodies will experience some changes with age, but staying physically active can buy you extra years of function compared to sedentary people.” Any exercise is good, so if cycling doesn’t spin your wheels, so to speak, there are plenty of other options – walking, stair walking, dancing, swimming, golf, bowls, yoga or Pilates.

Use it as an excuse to socialise by exercising with friends. Hit the gym and lift some weights – muscle strengthening can help reduce the risk of falls.

Selwyn villages offer a variety of activities each week for their residents to participate in, such as zumba, tai chi, indoor and outdoor bowls, aqua aerobics, petanque, general exercise and “stretch and relax” classes. For the wider community, The Selwyn Centres offer a weekly get-together with socialising and light exercise.

Of course, eating well goes hand in hand with physical health. Make sure you get the right nutrients and vitamins by eating a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Resist the temptation to eat highly processed and packaged meals, even if you are eating alone. In the words of Hippocrates, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”

“Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness,” Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby.

© The Selwyn Foundation 2016.