There’s nothing like summer in the Okanagan, am I right? Long, lazy, sunny summer days spent at the beach, in the hammock under a tree in the backyard or relaxing with a cold drink on the deck.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Everyone needs downtime. But when those lazy days turn into weeks or even the entire summer, the excessive downtime now becomes a downturn in your health.
Especially repeated year after year.
Those who follow my FIT Nutrition page or are part of the 8 Weeks is All it Takes Facebook group, are already set up to ensure this is a non-issue. It all started in June when many of us took part in a 28 Day Plank Challenge. The idea, started by fellow health coach Kate Sansum from Edinburgh, was to get as many people as possible doing something fitness related. Some started at 20 seconds, some two minutes. But the important thing was that everyone was able to improve their time, gain core and upper body strength, and even trim a few inches from around the waist; so why stop now?
My thoughts exactly.
I’m continuing this month with the Step Up Challenge. Summer is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy this amazingly beautiful place we live in, so why not explore it?
Walk, run, jog, hike, climb—you choose. Staying active builds muscle and maintaining strength is essential to optimal functional health. We all know that if you don’t use it, you lose it, and being sedentary is a sure way to poor health.
It’s time to step up.
Active people are happier, less likely to suffer from mood swings or depression, they take few sick days, are better able to manage weight, and therefore have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. They are less stressed, less likely to develop osteoporosis, stronger and have better balance, and they sleep better. And especially as we age, these conditions are huge factors in determining whether we continue enjoying life, or end up suffering through it.
But don’t take my word for it.
Let’s find out what some experts who work with our aging population are saying.
Geriatric medicine specialist, Dr. Arun S. Rao from St. Mary’s Medical Centre says, “Multiple medical problems over time resulting in frailty ... (along with) changes in strength and musculoskeletal results in falls.”
As you may have guessed, falls are one of the top reasons people enter a nursing home or care facility. Dr. Ted Achacoso, board certified in anti-aging and nutritional medicine, elaborates saying that injuries sustained from a fall happened because the person tried to catch themselves and were not strong enough to support their own weight.
Remember those lifestyle diseases and mental health issues I mentioned earlier? Senior care expert Anthony Cirillo reports that chronic lifestyle diseases such as COPD and diabetes are now rivalling falls as number 1, and depression is surpassing dementia as reasons people enter a care facility.
“Some of these diagnoses are preventable if we start taking care of ourselves,” Cirillo says.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Another notable benefit for people who are active and in good health is they seldom require medications. Aside from the fact that every medication comes with its own set of side effects, they tend to affect seniors differently, often causing dizziness. In fact, medication is the first thing geriatric specialist, Dr. Oluwatoyin Thomas at Mercy Health checks when one of her patients has had a fall.
If it wasn’t clear to you before just how important staying active, building muscle and strengthening our bodies is, I hope the information shared here has been enlightening and you are inspired to step up and take action.
I love this quote from Paul Zane Pilzer, “There’s a small demographic of people getting healthier as they age.” And the good news is, it’s not an exclusive club. Regardless of your age, level of health and/or fitness, anyone can make improvements to their health and quality of life.
At 51, I can honestly say I’m healthier and stronger than I was 25 years ago and I make a conscious effort to do something about it every day. If you’re ready to get started creating a healthier, stronger, happier you, I invite you to go to 8 Weeks is All it Takes on Facebook and join the summer Step Up Challenge.
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. It’s time to Step Up.
Tania Gustafson is a nutritionist and fitness coach. See: fuelignitethrive.com. Email: email@example.com. Tune in to her For the Health of It podcast Saturdays, 8 a.m., on OkanaganValleyRadio.com.