Updated: Jan 25, 2022
A recent short break from my usual yoga and exercise activity didn’t go unnoticed.
It didn’t take long before stiffness crept in around my hips and ankles –usually first thing in the morning or as I got up from slumbering on the lounge. There were also minor changes in my complexion and mood –neither were quite as bright.
It was a good reminder that my personal practice (and teaching) of yoga and exercise does keep me feeling pretty good most of the time – my motivation to promote and advocate the concept of ‘active ageing’ was also reignited.
It’s a well-known fact that we lose flexibility, bone density and muscle strength as we age – furthermore our metabolism slows down, leading to potential weight gain, increasing pressure on the joints and risk of developing or exacerbating chronic health conditions. Chronic health conditions do not suddenly appear overnight – they can creep up for decades before becoming obvious.
It might sound a bit gloomy – there are two sides to every story!
Becoming older is not afforded to everyone, so my view is to make the most of this one life we have. Why not aim to be the best we can be, not only for ourselves – it’s also important for the people around us. There are a lot of reasons to want to stay active for seniors - being active provides a tonic to support the activities we enjoy – gardening, keeping up with grandchildren or pets, participating in our community or going on a hike !
Instead of burying our head in the sand, having a self-defeating attitude or making excuses it may help to cultivate an attitude of ‘acceptance’ and ‘self-compassion’ of ‘what is’ – celebrate your maturity and wisdom!.
Next step – take action to explore. In Adelaide there are a growing number of providers specialising in creating activities to support active ageing as people move into midlife and beyond. Information on age appropriate activities can be found via community centres, local councils or via the advertising of specific providers. Ask friends what they do – (especially the ones with a spring in their step)! Check out health and fitness centres with a community focus such as the YMCA that usually include classes for older people. My classes are in Port Adelaide, Osborne and Seaton.
Importantly, challenge the negative stereotypes about ageing that may of seeped into your being. Avoid feeling a sense of ‘resignation’ due to the fact you’ve decided to attend a class that is designed to suit the needs of older people – instead delight in the fact you are doing something new!
My motto is it is never too late to start – my advice as I head towards my 60's - no matter if your 20 or 70:
Experiment and find something enjoyable;
Seek out instructors you feel comfortable with and those who will help you to introduce activity into your daily regime then slowly build;
Be patient – especially if you haven’t been active for a while – allow yourself to start slowly and build foundations to support activities;
Applaud yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone - it also takes confidence and courage to try something new;
Balance your activities – if you do strength training, you might wish to counter this with some yoga to improve flexibility and balance.
We owe it to ourselves to take care of our wellbeing – a positive mindset is essential – we can make a choice to take a proactive approach towards our health and wellbeing to minimise or slow down the onset of chronic disease, feel better and remain independent for longer – don’t put it off. The time to start in now.
Lesley Harris, founder of Peaceful Presence has a background in community education and health promotion and facilitates yoga and workshops to support wellbeing and healthy ageing in Adelaide + looking to cater for an online audience.
Chair Yoga, Yoga for Healthy Ageing, Active Ageing, Yoga for Seniors, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Seaton, Osborne - South Australia.