Never too late!

The other day a retired acquaintance asked our opinion on managing her sore shoulder. She visited a doctor who, due to her persistence, took X-rays. She contacted us because the doctor hadn’t miraculously fixed a problem that had accumulated due to sedentary living. (There had been no specific incident or acute trauma.)

Supporting her doctor’s advice, I suggested rest, a visit to the physiotherapist and regular exercise.

What, no drugs? Acupuncture? Massage? Manipulation? Surgery? Magic beans? Nope. Lack of exercise created the problem — rest, rehab and exercise would resolve it. In frustration her agitated response was, “Well, I guess I have to exercise for the rest of my life then!” We were immediately downgraded to her bad books, alongside her doctor.

For many, retirement takes the form of sitting, reclining, resting, and meeting friends for lunch. Some might say “I’ve earned the right to take it easy.” Yes, that is indeed an option. Activity, the road less taken, is always the better choice. With unlimited time on your hands your golden years should be filled with activity and enjoyment.

Should you opt for the healthy route, here are a few points to guide you along the way.

My doctor doesn’t listen.

I can’t speak for doctors but I’m sure their jobs must be exhausting. You can only say, “let it run its course” and “you should lose weight” so many times a day.

Many clients come to us frustrated with their physicians. Deaf to their doctor’s advice of exercise and diet, I’m sure many walk away frustrated, like our friend.

The sooner people accept a degree of personal responsibility for their health, the sooner they will start to feel better.

How long before I’m fit?

If you thought this was going to be a three-week venture I’ve got news for you. Forty years of inactivity isn’t remedied by a few pushups and situps.

On the positive side, everyone responds favourably and progressively to exercise and healthy eating. Your 30 extra pounds accumulated gradually — exercise should likewise ramp up gradually. If it’s too hard you won’t do it.

According to a study published in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, people who gradually increased weekly exercise to seven hours by the age of 40-61 reduced their risk of death from any cause by 35 per cent.

I know a guy who died young even though he exercised and ate salad. What’s the point?

Yup, sometimes the skinny guy drops dead while running and the grizzled, bacon-eating guy lives forever. That’s just luck of the draw.

These are exceptions. If you want to spin the wheel go ahead, sit around and eat bacon. Most ailments — obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, coronary heart disease — are tied to inactivity and poor dietary decisions.

Miss the gene pool jackpot and you don’t get another spin. Inactivity and bad diets lead to a retirement filled with prescription medication, immobility and discomfort. Hedge your bets by throwing some lettuce and regular exercise into the mix.

I’ll never be strong. It’s too late.

To much grumbling and gnashing of teeth, I suggested my boot camp class increase the weight they were lifting. I informed them my 75-year-old clients lift double the weight for more reps. The class called me ‘ageist’ and suggested the seniors were probably guys. Ah, no — it’s a couple.

I guess the class had a point. These lucky retirees have “all the time in the world” to exercise while poor 30- and 40-year-olds are chained to a desk all day. I will stop using septuagenarians as a measure for young people. It’s simply unfair.

As you plan for retirement ensure healthy, active living plays a big role. Not only does it improve your quality of life but it’s the best medicine going.

A swell of research currently taking place is demonstrating that exercise can equal, and even exceed, the effects of drugs when dealing with high blood pressure and fat. So remember, it’s never too late!

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