Are you trying to remove barriers to a healthy life? When my husband and I got married we smiled at each other and talked about growing old together. We were young and our thoughts of old age seemed so far into the future that it was barely worth mentioning. We were healthy and thought we’d always stay that way.
Now we’ve been married forty-five years this coming April and, thankfully, our dreams of growing old together are becoming reality. Some of our friends and acquaintances have passed away. Some are experiencing life with serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes and even dementia. We have a bit of arthritis and spend a significant amount of time searching for things such as our glasses and car keys.
But, we’re the fortunate ones because in general our health is still good. We are making serious efforts to eat less and exercise more, because it is literally true that if we don’t “use it” we’re going to lose it. We’ve begun to share meals in restaurants. Who needs 1,000 calories at one meal when we can just as easily take in 500? We eat healthy meals, look up healthy recipes and can eat rich desserts once a week instead of five or six times. We can be sure to get some form of exercise for thirty minutes a day. Lucky for us, we have a free membership to a beautiful community center. We can swim, take exercise or dance classes or engage in many other healthy forms of recreation.
How about you? Are you working at maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle that will take you well into your seventies, eighties and beyond? If not, why not? Let’s take a look at some of the barriers that may hinder an active lifestyle as we age.
Personal issues can be anything from a busy schedule to a lifetime habit of being a “couch potato.” When we’re young we can get away with a sedentary lifestyle, but as we age, we’ll find that sitting around all the time leads to ill health. Once in a cycle of doctor visits and pills we’ll lose the freedom to choose a more active life. Or maybe we’re overweight and it’s hard to exercise or dance or do any type of healthy movement. Whatever the issue, we can squeeze in thirty minutes a day if we know we need to do it.
Our self concept is a big part of the choices we make for enjoyment in life. If we see ourselves as passive and perhaps not acceptable to others, we may choose to do a lot of things alone. We may spend countless hours in front of computer screens or televisions and never get out of doors to enjoy a bike ride or a walk. We may choose other friends who are also out of shape and sedentary. Once we set a goal to improve our physical activity levels there are new choices to be made.
Sadly, a lifestyle of sitting and eating and not exercising will make us unhealthy. In addition there are many health conditions that we had no control over such as hereditary conditions, weak immune systems and many more. The good news is that no matter what our health situation, there is something we can do. Most medical conditions can be improved in some way by being more active. Goal setting is all about assessment of the now and setting a goal that is just a little bit more.
There are probably lots of other reasons why people see barriers to an active lifestyle. Whatever they are, it’s time to face them and set some new goals. Maybe your choice will be to dance or exercise in the privacy of your own home to the beat of a CD or video. Maybe you’ll set a goal of walking around the block five times or maybe you’ll find a dance class or join the local tennis club. The truth is, once you make up your mind to make a change for the better, there are no barriers strong enough to keep you from beginning to make a change.
You may want to begin this journey with a visit to your physician. Get an assessment of your overall health and be aware of any limitations you should consider, then make a plan. Make your goals achievable and measurable. If it helps, find some online ways to hold yourself accountable, or find a buddy to do the same.
I think you’ll find a new sense of hope and you’ll be very pleased with yourself when you make a plan and begin to make it a reality. Remember, use it or lose it!