Simple things can make a world of difference in staying alive. When ‘just what the doctor ordered’ instructions come from Harvard Medical School it might pay to listen.
Particularly when the subject matter is choosing life-long practices designed to keep you positive, healthy, engaged and resilient.
If this all sounds in the ‘too hard’ basket think again for small steps are what is prescribed rather than giant leaps. Those with a resistance to gym environments, or rebel at being regimented, can also take heart. Some of the best types of engagement can take place in quiet, comfortable and safe environments.
Harvard’s Professor of Medicine Dr I-Min Lee maintains that ‘work outs’ needn’t require Herculean levels of output and performance. The health benefits of some level of activity are clear.
Exercise, he says, will keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems and even ward off memory loss. Exercise regimes can also be tied to disease resistance.
So let’s get activated.
Top of the ‘work out’ card for Dr Li is swimming which he sees as the perfect exercise. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight bearing.” Research has also splashed upon the point that being one with water is good for your mental state and mood.
Second on his recommended list is the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi. Not at Master Bruce Lee’s level but a ‘gentler and quieter’ version to take advantage of grace and fluidity of exercises. Calling the practice ‘meditation in motion’ he maintains “it’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness and balance is something we lose as we get older.”
Occupying position three is strength training—the classic example of "use it or lose it.” Muscle is known for burning calories “the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn so it’s easier to maintain your weight.” He recommends to start light and build slowly.
Number four is the perennial favourite of walking. An activity that will not only take you places but provide immeasurable benefits as part of the journey.