"What is active aging?“ Definition according to the International Council on Active Aging
Active aging promotes the vision of all individuals—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or health—fully engaging in life within all seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, intellectual/cognitive, physical, professional/vocational, social and spiritual.
The ability to live and active aging lifestyle requires pro-active aging which means that health, function, fitness, mental abilities and longevity should not be taken for granted. Maintaining good health, optimal function and fitness, prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease, avoiding injuries (including falls, trips, stumbles and slips, soft tissue injuries, broken or fractured bones) requires planning and preparation just like financial planning for retirement. Stay engaged in managing your health, you are the CEO of your body, run it like a business, like your life depends on it, because it does. Physical activity, exercise, and fuel your body with nutritious foods that provides needed nutrients and avoid the foods that cause disease.
Be pro-active in active aging which allows you to enjoy an active lifestyle, stay engaged and embrace the aging process and live vibrantly throughout life’s stages within all dimensions of wellness for as long as possible.
What some of our trainers say and do about active aging.
What does active aging mean? Well, it means different things to different people. The ways in which we are active differ depending on our interests. What hobbies make you happy? If those hobbies are outdoors and you are moving your body then keep it up! If the hobbies you think of are inside and sedentary, I challenge you to think of some things that you may enjoy that require you to move your body and get outside. Spending time outdoors is a sure way to increase our happiness level and help us feel good.
As the years go by, without question we begin to lose the physical ability and adaptability of the year before. This is why it is imperative that we choose active hobbies to offset those changes. And just as important, an exercise routine that is created to support healthy joints, muscles, and balance to keep us moving freely without pain. Oh, and don't forget about eating healthy. Eating plenty of vegetables everyday is essential to healthy and active aging.
For me, active aging means spending plenty of time outside, eating healthy to support my active endeavors, and staying consistent with my exercise routine that is thoughtfully crafted to keep my joints and muscles happy. I love tending to my garden, cycling, hiking, and swimming just to name a few.
Q. What are some ways you can incorporate being active and getting outside into your lifestyle?
Active aging for me means being able to have and maintain the ability to perform activities that I enjoy and are meaningful to me. I was born in the Netherlands and enjoyed ice-skating in the winters and cycling in the summers, traveling to other countries, camping and hiking. As a health fitness professional and being over age 60 myself, I know from experience that life and quality of life can change very quickly and is sometimes beyond our control. My father was diagnosed with A.L.S. at age 79 my parents leading up to that time were physically active with cycling, walking, and took their small camper to visit favorite countries in Europe even while my dad was beginning to experience symptoms of A.L.S. but did not it yet know. After the official diagnosis he continued to decline rapidly in function and passed away about 3 months later. I only mentioning this because living actively can allow you to do things for as long as possible and compress the time where we need to live with disease, disability, pain and discomfort.
What I am doing about active aging.
I enjoy the outdoors and in my free time I am exercising, walking, nordic walking, cycling, and hiking with a friend or alone, tending my garden and vegetable patch. In the weekends you can often find me hiking trails in the Columbia Gorge, the coastal range or Mount Hood trails and recently hiked Hamilton Mountain, Dog Mountain, and these last weekends I hiked Coyote Wall, Little Maui and Labyrinth trails, Catherine Creek Loop trail. I eat only whole food plant-based foods to nourish my body. When traveling is safer I hope to be visiting family and friends on the east coast and Europe and explore other locations on this planet.
Q. What activity brings you joy and what can you do to maintain your ability to continue this activity or do it again?
Actively aging means just that - staying active as a person gets older. Think of it as participating in an activity because you want to instead of not doing an activity simply because of your age.
There is a difference between being active and deciding, “I can’t do (whatever) because I’m (your age).” The less you do, the less you will be able to do. This is much like a car parked in the driveway for an extended period of time and the same car driven regularly. It doesn’t matter the age of the car. The car looses its ability to run the longer it sits. Our bodies are very similar to this car analogy.
I am 58 years young. I am actively aging by working out daily. My workouts include cycling, walking, running, strength training, and/or stretching. I do all the yard work and help others with their yards. I also kayak, canoe, and hike.
I also do mental exercises for my brain and have a daily quiet time for my soul. Including something for all the facets of my body is important. The more active I am, the better I feel. The better I feel, the more active I am. Being active can be the difference in where we are headed: the metaphorical nursing home or cruise ship. Be active! It is a life changer - literally.
For me, active aging means to continue finding creative ways to enjoy my vegan diet—a diet which is particularly restrictive, because that is what I require to stave off a host of problems that nearly incessantly bullied my gut for thirty-four years.
It also means keeping exercise fresh and new, interesting and rewarding. One aspect of running I have always enjoyed is that it has enabled me to explore new places, to check out unfamiliar territory. Of course, I can travel further faster by running, but lately I have also begun to enjoy hiking with a friend. My favorite routes to follow are nature trails, particularly while vacationing to lovely new places. Rcently a friend and I visited Central Oregon and, about a week later, the Oregon Coast. Obviously the trails I selected for my morning run had already been traveled hundreds of times by countless others. But on those particular mornings when I was there I had the marvelous vignettes of Nature all to myself, even if only for a short while. It felt as if I was spontaneously blazing my own trail as I went.
Other activities I enjoy besides running are biking, swimming, and resistance exercise. I often incorporate resistance bands and/or a Total Gym , with its cables and pulleys, into my workouts, since those also allow me to get creative—and sometimes to “invent” new exercises—using different sets of muscles to pull or push against resistance aligned in different directional orientations, using unique yet helpful movement patterns.
Changing the way we age
The concept of active aging is summed up in the phrase “engaged in life.” Individuals can participate in life as fully as possible, regardless of socioeconomic status or health conditions, within the wellness dimensions.
We can change the way we age by staying active, to the fullest extent possible, within all areas of life: physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, professional, environmental and social. Aging within these dimensions of wellness keeps us involved, alert and enjoying a productive life.
How can we help you in your active aging endeavors?