Traditionally, as we exit middle age and enter later life, we’ve been encouraged to slow down and enjoy our golden years, but the tide is starting to turn: nowadays, the general consensus is that staying active is vital to preserving mental and physical health—and the ability to live independently—in later life.
So, with life expectancy rates continuing to rise, how can we live better as we live longer?
1. Give your health a sporting chance
The simplest way to stay healthy and busy is to find a sport or activity that you love.
A study of 3,500 adult males over two decades found that men who were physically active in their 40s and 50s were nearly three times as likely to be active in later decades, compared to those who were sedentary in middle age. The good news is that even those who left it later on in life to take up a sporting activity were more likely to be active in old age compared to those who never did, and the reason is simple: because they enjoy doing it and don’t want to give it up.
2. Green exercise
The temperature may be dropping, but the many benefits of green exercise should be enough to get you off the sofa and out the door. Exercising outside burns more calories, vitamin D absorption is increased which means healthier bones and you also get better sleep.
Even a small dose of low impact outdoor activities such as walking, gardening or fishing, can help to boost your mood.
3. Don’t let pain slow you down
Perceptions that hip or knee replacements are only for the very elderly, and the growing NHS waiting lists for elective surgery, can often mean people are living with pain and discomfort for far longer than they should, reducing their ability to keep moving at a time when they should be staying active.
In a study published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, patients that had undergone a total hip replacement experienced ‘meaningful and lasting improvements in quality of life’ for at least five years after the procedure.
Staying active has been identified as the single best thing you can do for your health – from lowering the risk of cancer, dementia, stress and anxiety to slowing down degenerative diseases – so don’t let pain hold you back.