Old Age, It’s Only A Number!


It’s Older People’s Day on 1st October! So let’s celebrate – because we’ve all made it this far!

Sadly, one thing that is true in life – is we’re all getting older!

But when are we classed as old?

For me it’s only a number – for me it’s all in the mind – for me it’s about your attitude to life.

If you want to get old or feel old then please do so. I’m determined to stave off the physical and cognitive changes of old age for as long as possible!  I might fail early, but I promise I’ll get old trying!

I’m 50 plus and still very active. I still do a bit of semi-competitive running, and still exercise and train with lots of 20 and 30 somethings – some of who I can still put to shame!

I’ve always exercised and stayed active and tried to look after myself. I think that plays a big part of how we age, and with the associated physical and cognitive changes that happen with getting older.

There is more and more research showing the positive associations on how we age with how active we are or have been, our diet,  general lifestyle and how we keep our brains active.

The links with the onset of vascular dementia, arthritis, muscle wasting, blood pressure, stroke, osteopenia or osteoporotic bones (thinning of the bones), which can make you more liable to bone fractures etc, have all been shown to be associated with the type of lifestyle we lead or have lead.

All these mostly age related conditions can lead directly to reduced cognition, our movement, muscle strength and stability (in turn affecting balance) – leading directly towards reduced mobility. The importance of which is that these changes can directly lead to reduced independence and function.  All these conditions have a direct link with our diet and lifestyles, with the lack of activity and exercise also being a large factor.

But it doesn’t have to be like that! Whether you’ve been active and now slowed down a bit – or never been really active but would like to be more so, there is never a time to stop or to start. Its all in the mind!

As an active ‘ageing’ physiotherapist I see lots of ‘older people’ for a number of musculoskeletal conditions, not all age related, but regularly blamed simply on ‘getting old’.

So don’t be labelled or label yourself.

Age is NOT a barrier to your quality of life. Appropriate exercise is highly recommended. The National Institute of Excellence (NICE), Arthritis Research Council (ARC) guidelines and Government Health messages are telling all of us to stay active, reduce any weight gain, stay strong, stay mobile and stay independent!

Active exercise is a key component to all of this.

No matter what your age, even us oldies, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s (or whatever you consider to be old!) there is never a time when you can’t start doing exercise – and certainly decider to stop doing exercise!

Simply going out for a daily brisk walk for 20-30mins has shown the positive effects associated with easing joint pain, reducing blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, weight loss and improving cognition.

 Always remember do something you like, dancing, walking, gardening, maybe an age specific exercise class or swimming maybe. There are lots of different types of exercise out there.

Make this the first day to start some simple exercise. Remember to consult your GP before starting any exercise routine, start slowly and build yourself up gradually.

If you need other professional advice seek it out. If you need physio assessment and treatment for aches and pains, which could be manual (hands on) therapy or acupuncture for joint pain, or just exercise advice or a home exercise programme, visit a good local physio who would be more than happy to assess and treat any physical issue, and design an exercise programme for you to get started.

Come on you oldies, let’s stay active and stay healthier for longer…and enjoy the many years we have left!

My message is be and stay active for as long as you can! Age is no barrier, it is just a number!

Kevin Huffington

Blog compiled by Kevin Huffington, Clinical Director and Lead Physiotherapist at Central Health



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