Getting healthier with age?

… unfortunately most people go the opposite direction. There is a prevailing myth that once we get older we have to get sicker. That’s not true, but that’s precisely what is happening to most people here in North America.

North Americans are bizarre. They actually expect to have high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia, diabetes, arthritis and toothless smiles. It is just a matter of when.

Myth of poor health

North Americans are so conditioned to believe in myth of poor health that most don’t bother to give it a second thought. This stuck mindset is perpetuated by our “health care” (or rather let’s call it for what it is “sick care”) leaders. The end effect is that North America does not even strive to be disease free, healthy and vibrant.

Being fully mobile (mobility scooters don’t count), youthful-looking, and off-drugs at seventy is a radical, and some also would say a foolish thought that would not dare to enter most North American brains. After all, everybody eventually gets sick and decrepit, so why should I be any different? Without believing in good health all North America is concerned with is to be taken care of by ever more needed government-subsidized doctors.

The body, an environmental processor

This is where our thought process is failing: a body is not a disease producing machine, but an adjustable environmental processor. I stress the word “adjustable”, because that directly ties into who you end up being: a youthful 80-year old, or a decrepit grump at 60.

Your body will adjust to whatever keeps on coming your way and respond with an adaptation. Think about it: if you never tried to walk as a baby you would not have that skill today. If you seldom get up from a chair how would you expect to rock climb on your first trial?

Your body is superiorly intelligent and will foster adaptive features but only when needed. What’s not needed is put on the back-burner and will atrophy from disuse. Do you think you will spontaneously have bulging biceps if you lift nothing or strong knees if you never squat?

Health requires maintenance

This is where effort comes in. Health requires maintenance. But possibly not the kind of maintenance you have in mind. Blending a smoothie every morning will not give you pianist’s fingers. Mobility-promoting effort requires physical discomfort. Yes, discomfort. You have to get out of your physical comfort zone or risk physical atrophy. That’s the rule of nature and that’s the rule of health. Lying on a couch will not give you swimmers lungs.

That brings us to our UthingTM adventures. We use our holiday time to extra-challenge our bodies, to give them stimuli a city-life cannot provide. We engage in activities that challenge our mind, body, spirit and skills. Our aim is to stay healthy past 100.

And tell the grand kids…

We want to be functional and self -sufficient while others rely on nurses, family, and the goodness of the country’s social system to carry them through. We want to be stress-resilient, highly experienced, skilled, and conditioned to be able to sustain various physical and mental challenges, as well as any unpredictable environmental hardship so we can tell our grand-kids that old age is wise and wonderful.

Don’t aim for a slow decline

For us age does not matter. Fifty is just as good as twenty. What matters is whether we can lift a leg on demand, squat at any time, twist to reach, and jump when required. Health is about building functionality. If you do not put extra effort to maintain it, it will slowly, incrementally, imperceptibly start leaving you.

First, you may notice you get short of breath on a 100-meter dash, unable to hold your breath under water, have difficulty touching your toes, or hold your balance on one leg for 30 seconds. Then you may start having difficulty combing hair, tying shoes, carrying groceries, or walking upstairs. Do you dare to contemplate what may come next?

So how do you imagine your life to be at 70? Proceed carefully with your thought process as you may have just created your destiny.

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