I have found a wonderful fitness-home at Dirk’sHealth in Sydney. I feel more alive, and yes, more muscular than I’ve ever been. The gym has a great mix of men and women – including retirees, grandparents, business people and working parents. (But why are there still more women than men? This so disappoints me.) I’ve made friends whom I meet for coffee, and exchange ideas with other members too. We all support each other and have one goal in common: LIVE STRONG, STAY STRONG.
You see, the social benefits from a (good) gym are crucially important too. What a bonus: we’re all not only looking and feeling better, we’re building social networks too – vital as we age. Feeling the way I do now, the classes I’ve been attending for nearly 4 years should give me an extra 10 years of quality living. Memory, motivation and momentum are at peak levels. This could be dangerous for someone my age, but I’m certainly not complaining!!
Please watch Dirk Hansen from DirksHealth give the nitty-gritty on cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility training.
I’ve also personally found that HRT has become less effective as I age. When the time comes to stop taking it (likely at 75), I’d like to walk away with confidence, still active and enjoying life: not as a wobbly, crotchety old woman.
So dear friends, please remember it is never just the one thing that gives results. It could be the foods we eat, friends we choose to have, or the way we think. With the right options, YOU are the creator in control.
Men: Has your belly gone to POT?
A man with a beer-belly (a standard in Australia) is NOT a stunning feature. It shouldn’t be there. I’ve even seen it lately amongst men in their 30s. Please read my first post in Diet & Your Colon, ‘What are you eating??’ (if you haven’t already).
I know many of you work as couriers, cab drivers or truckies. That means a lot of sitting and eating fatty fast foods like meat pies or burgers, and drinking anything but pure water. And you’re most likely overweight (if not obese) as a result.
A job’s a job but there are ways to cut your sitting time apart from hard exercise. ‘Why we should sit less’ from the British NHS says it well.
SNACK TIP: Almonds with either dates, dried figs or apricots are good combinations to snack on while you’re on the road. Almonds and dried apricots are rich in calcium, and dates are high in natural sugars – much better than any candy bar. And all are rich in fibre.
I know Australian blokes in particular love their RSL (Returned & Services League) clubs. Why not join gyms there, rather than spending your free time swilling grog? Local community centres also offer various activities, from walking groups to fitness classes. Please do whatever it takes and sign up for at least 2 classes or activities a week.
GENTS: Now’s the time to take EXERCISE seriously and do something about it. The longer you wait, the harder it is to start a regular exercise habit.
Your two other major health risk factors are alcohol and smoking. This Smart Moves section focuses solely on exercise; suffice to say you should reduce your alcohol intake and stop smoking entirely. The NHS in the UK provides some sober warnings for you:
MEN AND WOMEN: Have you heard of the ‘apple shape’ theory? It’s when surplus weight is between your chest and hips, and it’s when you become prone to heart trouble. If you don’t commit to reducing your carbs, fats and salt to any form of regular exercise, I don’t like your chances of reaching 50 without insulin, beta-blockers or worse.
Australian health writer Paula Goodyer quotes endocrinologist Dr Daniel Chen in her 2012 article:
‘Visceral fat (fat around the waist) secretes inflammatory chemicals that contribute to heart diseases and diabetes. Fatty acids are also released and end up being stored in the liver and muscles which makes it harder to keep blood sugar levels down.’1
An excerpt from Dr Norman Lazarus’ book, ‘The Lazarus strategy: How to age well and wisely’, says:
‘Ageing is not a disease, and the diseases of ageing have little to do with genetics. The real problems are social and lifestyle.’2
Professor Lazarus was 84 when he wrote the book, and a veteran long-distance cyclist. He affirms that exercise is vital for our physical and mental wellbeing and the magic bullet when it comes to ageing well.
SUMMARY: EXERCISE can prevent dementia, osteoporosis and all the other diseases that ‘old’ people get. Please check out a gym, fitness or pilates studio near your home or where you work. It saves on travelling time and is much more convenient.
If all this is too daunting for now, then just WALK 30 MINUTES DAILY, 3 to 4 days a week. Done first thing in the morning, it’s a wonderful way to start your day. Even this simple exercise will make you happier. The endorphins (the ‘happy hormone’) stored in your pituitary gland come to life after a brisk morning walk or an hour at the gym. And read (and re-read) my post ‘Move! 1.0’ in Smart Moves.
Together with a healthy diet, exercise will keep your weight in check. Orthopaedic surgeons will survive without you. And at 90, you’ll still be able to get up from your chair after you’ve finished your crossword and/or Sudoku!
1 Goodyer, P. (November 10, 2012). ‘An issue of storage’. The Sydney Morning Herald.
2 Rose, H. (August 11, 2020). ‘Norman Lazarus reveals how to stay fit at 80’. The Australian.