WHETHER we like it or not, we are all within the ageing process. At the cellular level, this is when our cells stop dividing. That’s why our skin, teeth, hair and other tissues might not look as good as we get older. But what gives? If we all age, why should we even care about it?
It’s all really a matter of mindset and perspective. We all know people who age gracefully. They look young for their age and have more energy than people younger than they are! And we know people too on the other divide, those who might not be as old, but look older than their years. So from a health perspective, how can we age better?
Stress is a natural occurrence of life. If you’re doing something meaningful, you’re bound to feel and experience some of life’s daily stressors. Exercise is actually a stressor, too. Too much stress, more than what an organism can withstand, is detrimental. Too little stress, the organism does not grow and adapt. We see this in exercise. Too much exercise, and one might be more prone to injury. Too little exercise also puts us at risk of lifestyle disease and weight-gain. The key is to look for adequate stress in our daily routines and exercise.
Enjoy exercise and healthy eating
The key here is not to become an exercise or healthy eating zealot. Find an activity you can enjoy and even enjoy the consumption of healthy food too! You are more prone to doing activities and eat healthy food if you enjoy having them.
Find your purpose for living
Life is not meant for us to wake, work, sleep and repeat. In the book “Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner, people who live in Blue Zones — places with people who tend to have higher life expectancy like in Okinawa and Nicoya — have a reason to get up every day.
For Okinawan grandmothers, that is to prepare breakfast for their grandchildren every day. Having this “life purpose” was associated with a reduced risk of death possibly through psychological well-being. We all know that relative who retired in good health, only to find themselves in suboptimal health years after retirement. This is attributed to that individual having lost productivity and some purpose for living.
If you’re a 30-something reading this, you might not care about ageing. But the fact is, we are all ageing one way or another. The key is to find ways for us to age gracefully.
As always, consult your physician if you have a health condition that makes it challenging for you to exercise so he or she can give guidance on what activities are appropriate for you.