Don’t worry wee mum if you are reading, this is not me talking about you!
“I don’t want to end up like my mum.”
…is a statement I have heard a lot in our initial consultation with clients over the years.
It’s normally someone in their fifties who is or has been caring for their mother and have watched as their mother’s health declines in their later years of her life.
This experience has brought into sharp focus for many people what their future may look like, and it has led them to be sat in front of me trying to formulate a plan that will increase their chances of having a different later life than their parents.
The generation who are now in their 80’s and 90’s benefitted from the advances that have been made in medical science in terms of living for a good bit longer than the generation before them. But for many those extra years have had very little quality in them.
This is likely down to the fact they never really had the knowledge or guidance on how to optimize their health. So this often led to a gradual decline in their health and with every year that passes there is / was a reduction in their ability to function and be an integral part of society.
I recently listened to a podcast that used the terms “longer lifespan” versus a “longer healthspan” and the speaker mentioned how our focus should be on increasing health span rather than lifespan.
This really resonated with me.
Clients tell us how it has been incredibly difficult to watch their parents go from a strong fit and vibrant person to being hunched over, shuffling down the street at a snails pace.
…or that their parents end up terrified of falling and barely leaves the house…
…or they have watched their parents become gripped by a condition such as osteoporosis or diabetes.
They described how their parents retired, stopped working and did little to no exercise and in response to this their body started to lose muscle and they lost power and balance, started having falls and couldn’t do simple tasks around the house.
Much of the generation of those now in their 50’s and 60’s want much more for their later years.
They are not willing to waste away and become shadows of their former selves. They want to embrace life full on. They want to be fit and strong and fully engaged in their families lives, or part of communities like golf clubs, walking groups, fitness communities and tennis clubs.
So what guidance do we give to these clients that are sitting in front of us looking for the answers?
First off we give them some reassurance that we have seen some amazing results with our clients who were previously in some ways resigned to a future of hip replacements and low energy.
We tell them how many of our clients are delighted to report they are now pain free and thriving and excited about everything that lies ahead of them.
When formulating a health plan we tend to look at two broad areas; fitness and health.
From the fitness perspective we then break it down into three areas:
1️⃣ Strength / power
2️⃣ Mobility / flexibility
3️⃣ Cardiovascular fitness
For strength we explain how doing some form of resistance training 2-3 times per week can offset muscle wastage, loss of power, reduction in balance and coordination and slow down the loss of bone density all of which are related to aging.
We explain that this should be a graduated approach, starting nice and easy and then progressing over weeks and months. We reassure them that there is usually a work-around for any current injuries or aches and pains that they may have. Being strong should be the cornerstone to any plan aimed at increasing health span.
For mobility, excluding the very few lucky people that are genetically flexible, we strongly recommend that some mobility exercises are incorporated into their week. Again we have had many clients over the years tell us how they thought that the pain they felt was issues with a joint or arthritis, but once they get more mobile the pain lessens or disappears.
When you are more mobile you will be able to get up the floor easier, put your socks on again and just generally move much better. Mobility training is something that can easily be integrated into your week but will have a huge impact on your quality of life.
The final piece of the fitness jigsaw is cardiovascular fitness. To maximize your cardiovascular health we think you should at least be in one of these two camps (or even better in both!).
One: still playing a sport that gets you moving and out of breath or…
Two: be a regular walker / runner.
Being in either or both of these camps will mean your cardiovascular fitness takes care of itself.
If however you are not in either of these camps we will incorporate more cardiovascular exercises into your workouts as it is vital to get your heart rate up on a regular basis.
For health we tend to look at four main areas:
We don’t expect our clients to live like monks, we believe it is important that they still enjoy their life and that you have fun and be healthy at the same time.
A glass of wine or an indulgent meal out now and then is probably good for your health as it releases a lot of happy hormones, and chances are you are doing it with people you like which has been shown to be a major player in health longevity.
So the everything moderation moto is probably quite good advice when it comes to improving health spans.
A word of caution however is required, if any of these areas (sleep, diet, stress and alcohol) are chronically out of balance the chances of you optimizing your healthspan are reduced greatly.
So to summarize, we are not saying that by putting all these things in place to maximize your 100% guaranteed better health for your later years. However, all the research around longevity seems to point to a greatly increased chance of having a really high quality of life in your 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond if you formulate a health plan similar to the one detailed above.
As I have said before in other blogs, we view it a bit like a savings investment. If you put invest for many years the chances are it will grow and prosper and will be there for you when you need it.
Making healthier choices will hopefully follow the same trajectory. But just the same as there will be the odd person who is unfortunate enough to need that money from their savings just as the market crashes, there will be some people who fall on ill health despite everything they have done to protect their health.
Its about stacking the odds in your favour for a brighter future as best you can.
Personally I am hoping to get another 40-50 years out of my body where I can experience life to the maximum before it packs in. I am doing everything I can to reduce my chances of living a 20-30 year decline, that leaves me feeling a burden and struggling to remember what life was actually like when I was able to actually do stuff.
With these thoughts in my mind it is usually a great deal easier to make healthier choices.
P.S. Sorry, but I have no additional advice on how to stop you being like your parents in the other ways that you may not want to! I just think that we need to accept that there is an inevitability of this for us all…
Are you interested in one to one coaching, or our online training? You can book a phone call with Scotland’s Personal Trainer Of The Year finalist, Paul using the form below:
Below are a list of products we recommend that will assist your training.
All of the products are used by us, so you can be sure they are of good quality.
If you buy using these links we will recieve a small commission at no extra cost to you. This is an easy way for you to help support our online platform.