Getting the most out of life – as with many things – is a matter more of quality than quantity. Living longer is not necessarily a wonderful thing if you can’t walk around, do your own shopping and – yes – play. Have fun. So, the goal is not just – as Mr Spock encourages us – to live long and prosper, but also to live long and thrive. And that requires that we stay healthy, mobile, fit, flexible, strong and resilient. And there is only one way to ensure that. Exercise!
Sorry, couch potatoes – there really is no substitute. None.
Exercise is good for you
However – sad fact – we tend to exercise less as we get older. But that’s not inevitable. In his iconic book Born to Run, Christopher McDougal states categorically, ‘We don’t stop running because we get old, we get old because we stop running.’
Roy J. Shephard, professor of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics at the University of Toronto, writes that ‘activity patterns in late middle age are quite strong predictors of the likelihood of dependency as a senior’. In plain English, the less you move around now, the less likely you will be able to move around when you’re older. That seems like common sense.
But what’s encouraging, Shepherd adds reassuringly, is that even people who start (or restart) exercising at age 65 can improve their health significantly. And that works for over-65s too.
But … and this is a big but(t)
Okay, now what are the chances that anyone reading this will slap their forehead and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that!’ Not much. We all know we should exercise more if we want a long, happy, healthy life. But knowing and doing are two different things. We have so many excuses to not exercise. Let’s look at some of them.
- I’m too busy. Half an hour outside in the fresh air moving about will invigorate your brain, and you’ll work more efficiently. Try another excuse.
- It’s too cold. Exercise warms you up. Not good enough.
- It’s too hot. So swim – that’s exercise! Or exercise in an air-conditioned gym. Or sweat for goodness sake, and then take a shower.
- I just can’t get motivated. Ooh, this is a serious one – it sounds like depression. Depression is a huge issue worldwide, and one of the best treatments for it is – you guessed it! – exercise. But depression makes it really hard to get off the couch, or even out of bed. It’s a nasty vicious cycle that you really just have to break. And once you’ve broken it you will wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner. Exercise is cheaper and more effective than anti-depressants.
- I’m sick. Okay, good excuse. Go to bed, go to the doctor, get better. Then exercise.
- I’m injured. Okay, also good(ish). But there is bound to be something you can do. If you have an upper-body injury, you can still walk, or maybe even run. If you have a leg or foot injury, you can still do upper body resistance training.
- I’m afraid. Another good point. If you have pre-existing issues like osteoporosis or heart disease, you do want to be very careful. But you do want to exercise. Just take it easy and do it under supervision.
- Exercise is boring. Wrong! Okay, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Find an exercise you enjoy and a place you enjoy doing it. And then – do it.
Make it happen
One of the advantages of living on a residential estate is that you have great economies of scale. It’s not many single-residence homeowners who have their own tennis court, stables, swimming pool, jogging track, mountain bike trail, squash court and gym. Not to mention a golf course. Of course, not all estates have all of these facilities, but most will have at least a pool, jogging track and some kind of gym, whether it’s indoors or outdoors in some lovely scenic part of the estate.
A dedicated space where people exercise and socialise in a welcoming environment is one of the most beneficial facilities an estate can provide. Even a retirement estate. Especially a retirement estate.
And it’s easy to make happen. Gym Africa offers a custom-design service for outdoor and indoor gyms, from the layout of equipment within an existing facility to concept and full interior design and planning of a new venture, including associated spaces such as studios and changing rooms.