One of our local newspapers recently ran an article advising of the risk of heart attacks or other injuries while shoveling snow for older people and recommended people over the age of 45 get someone younger to do it for them. FORTY-FIVE! As a person north of 50, I was mildly insulted for a few seconds, then I got irritated! What a terribly negative article that provided little of real value! It was encouraging people not to do the things they need to or find ways to be healthier, but instead live a more sedentary life along with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual decline that comes with it.
I like to think of myself as a positive person. Instead of seeing obstacles I prefer to see solutions. I see the path forward to where I want to go, then figure out how to walk that path. The idea that once we achieve a certain age we should avoid physical activity because of the risk flies in the face of how I want to live life and what I know to be true about health, function, and wellbeing.
The less we do the less we’re able to do. The more we neglect ourselves the more problems we’re going to experience. Avoid physical activity consistently over time and it becomes a downward spiral into disability and reliance on others. It’s the old adage of use it or lose it. The opposite is true too. We can chose to use it to keep it. Instead of thinking you’re too old to do something, ask yourself why can’t you do it? What can you do to maintain or even increase your functional capacity?
Consistently moving more enables us to consistently move more. Instead of the downward spiral of being sedentary it’s the upward spiral of maintaining and increasing our ability to function. Start by asking your doctor where it’s safe for you to begin, but for most walking 10-15 minutes at a brisk pace several times a week can have huge benefits to our health and function. Add in a few short structured workouts and functional capacity soars. Making some small improvements to nutrition can help even more. For bonus points, ask your doctor to complete a comprehensive blood panel and provide recommendations for vitamins you should be taking.
Be positive. Choose to do the things you can to enable you to do the things you need and want to do to live better longer. Shoveling snow may not be something most of us look forward to doing, but isn’t there satisfaction in knowing we CAN do it?
I’m 51 years old and I shovel my own snow.
– Don Larkin