As I nurse I have seen a lot of
intense and crazy things over the years. There is a reoccurring theme with patients though and it’s the “resting base” of their health status. I’m sure there is a better medical term for what I am about to describe. Now I do keep in mind that I am not seeing people on their best day and that I specialize in orthopaedic trauma.
There is a significant portion of the population that is not taking care of their body. Too much of some things and not enough of others. In the abundance category would be, of course, food. Portions that are super sized and too processed. Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and the couch also factor in this equation. The aspects that are lacking are fresh air, exercise and portion control.
I read a great book about 4 years ago that has really altered my long term outlook on the last half of my life. The original version “Younger Next Year After 50” was created/written by Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge and that focuses on living an active senior lifestyle and focused on health and fitness. They have now done a second version called “Younger Next Year After 50 for Women – live strong, fit and sexy” which deals with how menopause affects us. I’m not super keen on Chris’s attitude (a bit too much rich American for me) but the message that both he and Harry expound on is excellent.
They have seven “rules” to live by and they are all designed to stop aging. If we maintain the equivalent health and fitness of a fit 50 year old by exercising, eating better, having sex and caring about others then we can live well — really live well — until we are in our 80’s. Then the road out the door at the end can be quick rather than a lingering ugly way to go.
- 1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life
- 2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life
- 3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week, for the rest of your life.
- 4. Spend less than you make
- 5. Quit eating crap
- 6. Care
- 7. Connect and commit
I have seen this advise proven out by patients. I have looked after a patient who walked 10 kms every day; she looked 60 and was 75. She was quite upset about the slip on the ice and how this was going to lay her up but will be up and moving well long before the person who’s regular life is watching TV shows in the evening or spending it sitting outside a bar smoking. We had a 84 year old who was so disappointed as the fall that broke her wrist meant that she had to delay her trip to Manchu Picchu. Trust me that she did not look her age. My favourite patient story is a 96 year old who fell and broke her hip and her biggest concern was who was going to deliver mail to her friends and bring in her garden produce.
Yes there is some genetics at play here but there the activity plays a huge role. I have a friend who walks her dog for an hour per day in all types of weather. My daughter had no idea how old this family friend was until recently and couldn’t believe it when she found out. This same friend also has a huge connections in the city and volunteers regularly. I also have friends, around my age, who’s knees and hips are going and who are on a significant number of medications. It’s often a topic at work about what came first; the hip and knee problems or the weight and the slippery slide down that slope that leads to medications. Trust me that I know how hard it is to keep weight down and in good physical shape. It’s an everyday challenge but one that I must keep on top of. At one point in my life I was 45 pounds heavier than I am now but I am still working on 25 that likes to hang around. Being detailed by injury is my usual excuse for it popping back on but perhaps I should step away from the table sooner when I am not able to exercise. The most common excuse is no time but if you don’t put yourself first on the list then you are doing yourself a disservice.
I want to live well and strong so I have recently began lifting weights. I use a lot of strength in my day job but also need it for some of our home projects like building rock walls or hauling wood around. I don’t watch a lot of evening TV but rather spend time on projects which usually involve physical activity. I haven’t become a regular hour long or 10 km walker but I know that when I take away the 40 hour work week the walk times will become longer. The one I struggle with is “don’t eat crap”. Now what’s crap I ask? Is good quality dark chocolate crap? How about whipping cream? It beats Cool Whip out for sure. Is butter better or marg or olive oil? It’s a great thing that I love meat and proteins so thats a plus. I refuse to beat myself up about the 6 waffle pretzels I had yesterday though. I think that everything in moderation is perhaps the best way to look at that. Or at least that is how I rationalize the dark chocolate and the beer as they both have restorative powers for me.
The link below takes you to their website. The book or books are worth a read. I’m glad that I was introduced to them and hope that if anyone reads this and finds it helpful then it was worth the time to write this up. They talk at length about a “ketch” which is a push into something extreme for your body – a way to kick start yourself really so I have included one picture. Several years ago we did a cycling trip in the Czech Republic with our good friends. I had to increase my fitness pre trip and I thoroughly loved seeing a country that way plus the exercise aspect of it was phenomenally fulfilling. I fell in love with cycling, increased my skills at it and know that it is a fitness activity that I will still be doing at 85.