Are those years creeping up on you? Are you seeing the signs of physical wear and tear making life just a bit harder? Have you heard of active aging?
No? Don't worry if you haven't! It's a relatively new concept and we had to get ourselves up to speed too. Now, we're here to do the same for you.
The concept of active aging has been brought to life over the last number of years, to address engagement in life as we age and tack on years.
We're going to focus on one aspect of it, which is active aging fitness. But first, let's take a look at what exactly active aging is.
What is Active Aging?
Active aging is defined
by the International Council on Active Aging
"...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."
These aspects are all straightforward, but perhaps never before, have they all been sewn together in a holistic manner to provide a fuller perspective of our health as we age.
This would be another case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The International Council on Active Aging rounds out the concept, describing it as:
"...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.
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."
World Health Organization Definition
Then you might also hear the term "healthy aging." The World Health Organization (W.H.O.) employs the phrase "healthy aging." The World Health Organization defines it
“...as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”. Functional ability is about having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value. This includes a person’s ability to:
- meet their basic needs;
- learn, grow and make decisions;
- be mobile;
- build and maintain relationships; and
- contribute to society"
Make a little, mental note of meeting basic needs and being mobile. Those are 2 critical aspects of aging that directly relate to our physical health and active aging fitness.
The W.H.O. definition adds day-to-day functional ability to active aging. Functional ability represents the main reason why active aging fitness could be the most vital aspect of the ICAA's 7 dimensions.
Let's talk about the importance of functional ability and why active aging fitness plays a crucial role in living a robust, full life.
Active Aging Fitness- The Key to the Door of a Long Life
The 2 big factors that inhibit living an independent, healthy and active life as you age are loss of grip strength and falls.
When thinking about health risks of aging, most people immediately think of falling. This is a legitimate, serious concern.
I've seen the consequences of elderly people falling, and have heard many more stories. Let me tell you, the aftermath can be devastating.
Coupled with falls, brittle bones can put you into the hospital and a therapy center for weeks, making for quite an unhappy time in life.
Your muscles act as your body's armor. In a way, muscles are body armor
. We'll save an in-depth discussion of this for another post. For now, trust us on this one.
Not only do your muscles help to prevent broken bones, but they also perform another huge task that help avoid falls- stabilization.
Strong muscles help stabilize you and provide steady balance, thus mitigating the risk of falls.
What's the other main factor in active aging fitness and preventing falls?
Yes, grip strength plays a massive role. Many people don't know this, but once you think about it, it's just common sense.
Declining grip strength is one of the most accurate indicators of a loss of quality of life.
If you don't have the grip strength to do common, every day, mundane tasks, your independence is threatened.
So if you can't hold a coffee cup, open a cupboard, button a shirt, open a door, hold a knife or fork, this could be a troubling sign.
Coupled with an inability to grip a railing, you're likely unable to care for yourself independently and may require professional care.
But if you exercise, build some muscle and get fit, you'll reap all kinds of benefits
, including but not limited to mobility, flexibility and balance.
It's never too early, or too late, to start either. Studies have shown that adding an exercise habit and strength training to your life in your 40s, can pay dividends
decades down the road.
Even if you're in your 80s or 90s, you can still increase your muscle mass and strength
. For example, working out with a weight vest can help manage osteoporosis
Additionally, let's not overlook the importance of mindset. Although physical fitness plays a pivotal role in active aging, your mindset becomes critical too.
Of course if you're living in one of these 25 "best in wellness" communities
you may have a distinct advantage.
If you're not, don't worry. This study
points out the huge impact of your mental health and mental resilience, saying "Psychological variables may contribute to more positive attitudes toward health and facilitate functionality."
Furthermore, this quote brings the topic full circle, back around to, functionality. Let's take a look at what you can do, by staying fit, healthy, and strong, thus maintaining your functionality.
If They're Doing It, So Can You
How can we not start off with Arnold? The guy is already a legend and he keeps working on it, literally and figuratively.
I mean, look at him.
The guy still
looks awesome. Major respect and a big tip of the hat to the man.
Undoubtedly, he's in the American pantheon of fitness gods, along with the likes of Jack LaLanne and Richard Simmons.
What makes Arnold legendary is that he obviously wasn't in it for fame, fortune or politics. He stays fit because it's his life
And now, he's building on his legacy even further, playing the role of poster grandpa for active aging fitness. Bravo.
It's not just for men either. No, no, no. Plenty of women are getting in on the act too, so there's no excuse for you ladies.
We're not talking pool calisthenics or shuffleboard either. No, we're talking serious strength training and weight lifting.
What about functional fitness? Have you ever considered doing CrossFit with your daughter?
How old are you? PFFT. No matter!
And if you think 60 is young, then think again. We have some news for you.
How about 72? As in, 72 years old and hammering CrossFit.
Please meet Lauren Bruzzone. She's been around a few years now, and every time I see her, I'm still amazed and inspired. Hope I can have half her energy at that age.
Is time an issue? Do you find yourself saying, "I don't have the time"? Then you may want to think again.
And we're not even talking about getting closer to the end of your life expectancy. No. I'm talking about the time in your schedule and week to work out.
How about a 61 year old CEO who finds the time? He's obviously not making any excuses.
Moreover, as the top commenter on the video says, "A lot of people will say he has money so it’s easier for him. Oprah has money too and you see her struggle with weight. You have to want it."
In conclusion, last but not least, we have this 81 year old, bodybuilding dynamo.
So if she isn't enough to inspire you in regards to active aging fitness, I don't know who, or what, will.
Get After It
We hope this gets you at the very least, interested in active aging fitness. Better yet, as some company mentioned once, "just do it."
If you have any feedback, tips, advice or stories you'd like to share about your active aging fitness journey, please share with us!
Finally, thanks for reading, have a great day and stay awesome!