I recently came back from Calgary, Alberta where I had the experience of walking a tourist path up a mountain. What struck me was not only the difficulty of the walk but how many seniors walked part of the way with walking sticks or “Nordic poles.” You might be asking what does this have to do with staying young? Well I think for the seniors on the walk, I saw 3 traits that all seemed familiar.
- Have fun with exercise – outside of the fact of the tourist walk being good for exercise, the scenery of the mountains must have added to the experience of the walkers. I’m not suggesting that everyone should take up walking up mountains or trails, but the seniors walking seemed to generally enjoy the experience beyond just going for a walk. When you have fun with exercise, it adds to the experience and can take your focus off the difficulty of what your doing.
- Don’t stop doing what you already do- along with having fun; we shouldn’t stop doing activities because we are a certain age. Too often as an Older Adult Specialist I have heard the phrase ” I am too old for…” I am certain that the seniors exercising on the walk were not too old to be doing what they were doing. My advice for seniors who enjoy certain activities is to not stop doing them, because if you stop it become much harder to start again.
- Do it together- as someone who teaches senior fitness classes, one thing I often notice is that seniors like to talk before class. So much so that sometimes jokingly I think that seniors come to class to talk and not to so much for the exercise. On the tourist walk, many of the seniors were walking in groups or pairs while talking and taking in the beautiful scenery. Group exercise or activities always add a different dynamic because they make it a shared experience that deepens the bond between people.
Although I was far from home, there are certain lessons that can be learned anywhere. For the many Older Adults who I saw walking the trail with me, I learned some of the lessons that they have used to stay young and healthy.