Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
If you are like some of the older adults in the Forever Fit Cardio fitness class I teach at Spectrum, you don’t necessarily want 30 years added to your lifespan. And these are active adults in their 60s-80s, so imagine what inactive people might say to living to 100 and beyond. And yet, it is possible to greet such an offer with delight, not dread.
However, the worry about adding years to life without adding life to those years is well-founded. When we interviewed for our radio show, highly recognized active aging expert, Colin Milner, founder of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), he laid out some interesting stats and scenarios facing our baby boomer population.
According to Milner, the US and Canada have shoveled out trillions of dollars to increase longevity. And that effort has been quite successful: we North American humans have added an average of 30 additional years to our lives in just one century. That jump is bigger than the one my sister did when a tick landed on her during a dog walk the other day. The problem with the lifespan jump is that those added years are not proving to be healthy ones. Suuuuuu-prise, suuuu-prise. Or not really a surprise at all.
Basically, as we age, our generation faces 5 key challenges. (For the full story and examples, click to hear the radio interview “5 Top Challenges Redefining How We Age.” Then you can proudly claim you’ve been “Colinized!”).
For each problem, Colin Milner offers a corresponding suggestion. While he confesses that his advice may seem simple, he stresses that putting it into practice takes effort and focus. Making a plan to age in a healthy, “new thinking” way is hard. Yet aging inactively is harder.
All in all, the key is to be proactive in order to age actively. Whew! That’s a lot of action. But not yet enough, as what we ultimately need to do is create a plan for today and the added tomorrows. We can redefine how we age, writing a new and better ending for ourselves and history. As Colin asks, “What is your plan?” What expectations do you have — of yourself, your health, your future, your present? In short, what will you do with your 30 added years?
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Vibrant Influencer Network compensated us for this post. Of course all opinions are our own, and the research results are from unrelated, independent sources.
For every minute you walk briskly, you can reap a potential gain of one to seven extra minutes of life! Midlifers especially benefit from putting in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (such as brisk walking or a cardio class). If you increase your intensity to a strenuous level, you can double the effect, according to a recent study on exercise and lifespan.
Holy smokes, but that is fairly astounding and under your control! For instance, if 150 minutes of a Low Impact group fitness class can offer you a 1-7 return, then a 75 minute high intensity run or elliptical workout would give you 14 minutes of extended lifespan for every minute you huff and puff your sweaty, baby boomer way to long life!
Kymberly: Let’s imagine you are like one of the women in my older adult classes who protested when I shared this Fun Fit Fact in the Forever Fit Cardio class I teach: “I don’t want to live longer. What if those extra years are dependent, lonely ones?” Understandable fear and question.
No doubt you have heard the adage that exercise adds life to your years, not just years to your life. You know Alexandra and I HAVE to git on up on our high hossies to extol the many benefits of moving on a regular basis, such as countering depression, enhancing mood, improving optimism and self-image. In other words, active, fit people tend to be happy, engaged people since quality of life goes up along with those added years.
Let’s look at another huge cause of weight gain and health risk that has been getting a lot of attention lately — prolonged sitting. (Oops, I think I will now stand up to type this post. Ok, my hiney has gone vertical now). Ready to be motivated? If you reduce your sitting to fewer than three hours per day, you increase longevity by two years. I know I want to be around to see my future grandchildren grow up, visit me, and try to out walk me! Nevah! Well, maybe one day, but by 90 years old I will be ok to be out-exercised by whippersnapper rellies.
Wait, there’s more! If you cut back your tv watching time to fewer than two hours per day, you have an estimated life span increase of just over a year. We know, we know – such study results are no guarantees for individuals and are statistical averages only. Still, don’t you have loved ones and a bucket list and things left to do in life that make less sitting, more moving, and more quality years just a little tempting? Why not tip the odds in your favor?
What if you die youngish like-ish despite your best, healthiest efforts? (Remember this post is sponsored by Royal Neighbors of America, a life insurance company with a difference — the organization’s philanthropic efforts are dedicated to changing women’s lives through its national programs.) While we women outlive men on average, is your family protected financially if you can no longer contribute to the household income? Women tend to be underinsured. I know I carry far less life insurance than does my husband. And I am several years younger and a trophy wife! Just agree and keep reading, will ya?
At the very least, click this calculator to assess your life insurance needs. You never know what might happen….
Alexandra: A few years ago I received a call that Kymberly had been in a serious car accident. Luckily, the phone call started with, “Don’t worry, she’s going to be okay,” so I didn’t panic…too much. And she was okay (You know, as much as she’ll ever be! Notice I didn’t say “normal”). It was a bit of a wake-up call for me, though, as I have the mindset that my exceptionally good health will protect me from everything, including zombies and locusts.
Back in the parallel universe that is reality, I realized that I needed to add life insurance to the list of steps I’ve taken to protect my sons in case I’m hit by a bus (in clean undies of course). Even though I don’t make a lot of money, every bit counts, and I don’t want my kids to be stuck with my mortgage, car payment, the school loans we took out for my eldest, or COD (cost of death – funeral or cremation). I jumped at the chance to write this post (jumping is good for you), because I think I’m the typical boomer woman — has income, doesn’t have life insurance. And I like the way Royal Neighbors is doing business. What about you; Have your protected YOUR income?
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