What would you do with 30 extra years of life? Give those 30 years back?
If you are like some of the older adults in the Forever Fit Cardio fitness classes I teach, 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, especially if you embrace healthy aging and dispel some common misconceptions.
Redefine How You Age?
The worry about adding years to life without adding life to those years is well-founded. When we interviewed 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 to those of us who work with or are older adults.
Basically, as we age, we baby boomers and our parents face 5 key challenges. Can you guess what they are?
Super Sensible Solutions for the Projected Problems
For each problem, Colin Milner offers a corresponding suggestion. (Could be why his nickname is “the Colonizer.”) 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.
In fact, as a generation, we are NOT aging healthfully. Read about it here: Women Over 50: We are NOT aging healthfullyTop 5 things you can do to age well (even after a lifetime of yuck, blah, & bad habits Click To Tweet
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?
Want to be an s active aging superstar? How? Read this post: What Do You Enjoy About Aging?
HOT NEWS: Speaking of the International Council on Active Aging, I was one of 30 national fitness leaders selected to present at their Nov 2016 Reimagine Aging conference taking place in Orlando. My topic? “Integrate Function and Cognitive Challenges into Your Older-adult Fitness Group.” In a nutshell, move, think, do both at once.” Am I qualified? Decide for yourself by reading this post: Midlife Funtional Aging Specialists
Really be impressed with how much you will learn and benefit from the cutting edge advice of Colin Milner and others who specialize in healthy aging for older adults. Take a gander at our TransformAging package. Seriously, don’t simply grow old when you can age actively! Costs nothing to check out this link: TransformAging Summit
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Kymberly: Those who know what a high energy,
chatty, loquacious, interactive mover and groover I am will be surprised to hear the answer coming from me. (Or not, as you already saw this post’s title. Menopause might make us forgetful, but not stoopid.)
Anyone else find menopause a little stressful? In the award winning category of “Stating the Obvious,” menopause stress can contribute to memory loss and weight gain. As in, “I sure don’t remember gaining those 30 pounds.”
Anyway… turns out Meditation can turn back the hands of time and pounds. Additionally meditation has even been proven to make us nicer, kinder, more compassionate people. (Hear that hubster? I’m not menopot moody. I’m meditation deprived). If you want to breathe more life into yourself, read our post on meditation lite). Also check out my Tip #3 in our post “10 Ways to Get Healthier in Under 10 Minutes.”
Just a few daily minutes of meditation can calm us, reduce stress, and slow our heart rate. Sounds a lot like the benefits of exercise, right? But without moving! Meditation may also reverse the effects of aging on the brain. It thickens the prefrontal cortex, the area of brain that helps with planning and attention. For people with memory loss, meditation helps increase memory via more blood flow to brain. But wait, there’s more! Meditation also decreases our body’s stress hormones, heals our wounds faster, and lowers our blood pressure.Meditation may reverse the effects of aging on the brain Click To Tweet
Factor in recent studies that show meditation increases telomere length, and you have your longevity, happier life bonus plan! In the DNA world, telomeres are the little plastic pieces on the end of our chromosome shoelaces. The longer your telomeres, the longer your life span. Short telomeres accelerate aging and correlate to a shorter life. People who meditate daily for at least four years have longer telomeres than those who do not meditate. For ten added quality years of life, be the first to enter the word in the comments for that plastic shoelace piece without having to google it. Hint: It starts with an “a.”
I’ll take an order to go please of a young, long-living brain garnished with my years of experience. Since I have big plans to be around four years from now, I might as well get on that telomere lengthening program.
On when of my guest teaching trips to Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort, I decided to attend three meditation classes. Loved them! Not only did I stay still and quiet for record time (ok, half an hour for each), but also I have stuck with meditation since coming home. More on that later in this post. Remember to keep reading!
The sessions were totally different from each other: one was a guided visualization that the instructor talked us through from start to finish. Another was a silent meditation with the instructor giving directions and suggestions at the start, then setting a timer that lulled us back at the end. The third had verbal guidance that segued into soft music and nature sounds. All three meditations left me revved, calmed, and focused enough to learn more. One thing the Ranch teachers stressed — perhaps better to say “emphasized” — is that meditation comes in many forms and styles. Pick one or a few approaches that resonate with you, as there is no right or wrong way. We reap the active aging benefits regardless, in as short as seven hours in some cases.
Since I am a meditation novice I asked one teacher whether having phone apps would help. Cha Ching – Ohmmm! That got a resounding thumbs up, heart rates down as a good idea! As soon as I crossed the border back into the U.S. (also known as “covered rate plan for my cell phone”), I downloaded “Relax and Rest,” “Take a Break,” “Calm,” and “Meditate Now.” All are free. So far my favorite is “Calm” as it offers verbal guidance and a 7 day progressive program. My mind wanders less when I have a voice calling me back from my mental to-do lists, thoughts of the past and future, and sleep’s siren call. Try them if you have a smart phone and are wanting to reap meditation benefits. Heck, you may end up with a youthful, sleek, brainy phone once you download these apps!
I am on Day 6 of meditation, with some sessions lasting 5 minutes, others hitting an ambitious 13! So far I have noticed a bit more ability to focus and my creativity has been on the upswing. I thought of this post title after meditating, for one thing! Now to be nice to my sister. Might need those four years of meditative practice first. snarfle snark
Alexandra: I was going to meditate, but I forgot. Maybe next time.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Certainly walking isn’t as intense as running. However, both activities target similar muscle groups, which may be why results in improving heart health are so similar. Research suggests that the type of exercise may not be as important as how much you go, go go. So move forward; locomote; get your gait on!
Walking for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
Want some easy, practical walking tips to get you started or rev you up more? Watch our short video on Walking for Weight Loss (and More). Then bust a move to our post Great Gait: 7 Steps to Better Walking to really get the most out of your walks.
Walk For Weight Loss (video)
Another Fun Fit Fact about walking is that for every hour you perambulate (just had to use that jaunty word), your life expectancy may increase by two hours. Not only that, but a faster stride may also be a predictor of a longer life. (Convinced yet? Read our post Can Walking Really Get You to Your Fit Destination?)
Of all the cardio exercise options out there, walking has the lowest dropout rate! It’s the easiest, most accessible, positive change you can make to improve your heart health. And the benefits are exponential. The more you walk, the greater your odds of lowering heart disease risk. What are you walking for?
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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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