When I grow up, I want to have the zest and vitality of my neighbour Sheila. Not only is Sheila kind, she is also honest and always up for an adventure. She has a shared passion for theatre and the arts, watches just about every film out on release at the cinema and volunteers at a charity shop. In the past few months, Sheila has had to put up with builders at our flat (she lives opposite) and has also visited Israel and Prague. When we has a party around Christmas time, she popped round with a bottle of wine and chocolates. Goodness, she has even been kind enough to let me store my bike in garage. Put simply, Sheila is one-of-a-kind and she also happens to be in her 80s.
So when I was asked by Simply Health if I wanted to take an elderly relative or friend to Kew Gardens for the day, I couldn’t think of anyone better. Sheila may be elderly but she is certainly conscious of staying active. From swimming to dancing, this octogenarian doesn’t let age stand in the way of health. The weather may not have been the best but we enjoyed each other’s company and after the rain came a pretty spectacular rainbow.
And just like the sunshine, Sheila brings sunshine into our lives (myself and my partner). She offers words of wisdom but is also keen to find out what’s new. I think the fact that she stays active both mentally and physically means she has the same bounce as someone half her age.
Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Sheila’s attitude towards ageing and health is not the norm. In fact, research published by ShARP (Simply health Advisory Research Panel) and simplyhealth reveals the following facts:
- 20 percent of over 55 year olds are seeing their doctor less, compared to younger age groups
- 29 percent of older Britons have been advised to lose weight
- Only 13 percent of those have been successful in shedding the pounds.
Now I’m not going to do a deep dive into the details here (you can find out more by taking a look at this infographic) neither am I going to suggest that everyone should exercise for an hour a day. I am however conscious that if I have to work until I’m 75 due to our ageing population, I want to ensure that I’m healthy as I can be.
I’m lucky enough to have found an activity that I enjoy and live in a city, where public transport, walking and being active are the norm, but you don’t have to be a running obsessive or live in London to stay active. It’s the small steps that can make all the difference. You could walk to the shops instead of jumping in the car. Forget the lift and take the stairs. You could walk the kids to school or park a mile away and walk to the school gates (after all, it may save the stress of drop-off traffic jams). Love dancing as a kid? What’s stopping you now? If you enjoyed something as a kid then there’s no reason to say that your feelings will change today. After all, we’re all big kids at heart.
Try a new activity, find a sport that you enjoyed as a child or simply adopt new habits and you’ll live a healthier life and still have a thirst for adventure whatever your age, just like my neighbour Sheila.