My active adventures have taken me snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, ziplining in mountainous regions of Costa Rica, trekking up uneven steps of the Great Wall of China, horseback riding and skiing in Colorado as well as other exhilarating activities. While some of my fellow participants showed signs of maturity, most were considerably younger. Frequently, the people over 50 headed for the sidelines and chose not to participate in activities. One excuse after another was given for not engaging in an active lifestyle or stopping soon after starting.
As an active person with five grandchildren, I ask my peers, should the aging process limit your active lifestyle?
Having experienced a plethora of orthopedic surgeries and hundreds of trips to see physical therapists, I truly understand the debilitating effects of pain. I cannot deny the fact that pain sucks. But aches and pains should not have the final word. Yes, I admit that my orthopedic issues have, at times, made it impossible to do what I wanted to do. However, I never viewed any of these setbacks as permanent. Whether it was a foot, a hand, a knee, a hip, a shoulder, or my back, I always did whatever I could to find a way to either eliminate or minimize the pain. Some journeys took much longer than anticipated, but I persevered.
- Was it easy? Rarely.
- Did the recovery process follow the doctor’s estimation? Sometimes.
- Did I become frustrated? Yes, far too often.
How did I stay motivated to move forward?
I wasn’t ready to give up. As long as I am physically fit, I want to ski, hike, bicycle, snorkel, horseback ride, and explore the world. It’s simply not possible to be a couch potato and simultaneously be a professional travel writer.
Connection Between Activity and Longevity
Study after study advocates the effects of an active lifestyle. Just Google “Exercise and Longevity” and you will find no shortage of stories.
- Is it always possible to follow the World Health Organization’s Physical Activity recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity plus two days of muscle-strengthening activities per week? No.
- Do I try to get as much activity as possible? Yes.
- Do I include activities in natural settings? Yes, because many studies clearly illustrate the importance of spending time with Mother Nature.
- Do I sometimes fall short of my expectations? Absolutely.
Maintaining a Balanced Life
How do I attempt to stay on track?
I read books offering clues on how to establish good habits. To date, James Clear’s advice has resonated the best with me. I recommend checking out his website and newsletter.
Every day, I make an effort to maintain a balanced life. Ideally, this includes time for physical activity. Clear offers helpful hints for establishing good habits like daily exercise. But I have to admit that my Apple Watch provides an added boost. When I purchased it, I was merely looking for a waterproof device that could track my time swimming. Little did I know that I would be wearing it more than 50% of the time. While it is annoying when the watch pulsates and reminds me to stand up, to breathe or that my activity level is falling short compared to past performances, it is a welcomed reminder that I am not following good habits.
Power of Exercise
Another author worth acknowledging is John Medina. In his book, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Thriving at Work, Home, and School, he states
Exercise makes your muscles and bones stronger, improving your strength and balance. It helps regulate your appetite, reduces your risk for more than a dozen types of cancers, improves the immune system, changes your blood lipid profile, and buffers against the toxic effects of stress. By enriching your cardiovascular system, exercise decreases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. When combined with the intellectual benefits exercise appears to offer, we have in our hands as close to a magic bullet for improving human health as exists in modern medicine.
Sometimes a simple walk in my neighborhood will suffice. Other times, I hop onto the stationary bicycle that I received as a gift from my children. Yes, it would be great if I could devote an hour every day to some type of physical activity but frequently I misjudge how long my family and work obligations will take and my time allotments for the day are off-kilter. Graphs generated by my Apple Watch help me keep track by showing me where I’m falling short. Sometimes it is possible to reset the balance the following week while other times I simply have to let go of my shortcomings.
Is Balance the Whole Answer?
After watching Joon Yun’s TED Talk, I question whether a consistent routine is the best advice. Yun calls into question whether variations in daily choices can cause the body to become more resistant and stronger. He advocates eating a varied diet, taking trips to diverse climates with different elevations as well as participating in many forms of exercising. Will this make a person more resilient and healthier? Perhaps in the future, researchers associated with the National Academy of Medicine or other medical organizations will come up with a more comprehensive understanding of how to improve healthy longevity.
Active Lifestyles Increases Travel Opportunities
My travel itineraries are usually jammed packed with nonstop activities. Maintaining a vibrant lifestyle in between my travels enables me to keep an active pace while traveling. While coffee may help a bit, my stamina propels me through hectic days. When I might only have one chance in my lifetime to visit a destination, I want to make sure that I can experience as much as possible. After listening to Yun, I can only wonder whether my varied portfolio of travel sites will contribute to a stronger body.
In the coming decades, I realize curve balls associated with the aging process may bombard me with an assortment of challenges. To counteract any adverse effects of aging, I will continue to maintain an active lifestyle combined with worldwide adventures and incredible journeys. If you want to learn more about my travels, visit TheTravelingBornsteins site.
Do you have an active lifestyle tip you would like to share?
When Sandy isn’t trekking or writing in the Colorado Rockies, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India. Sandy shares her lifestyle and travel experiences with international and domestic online sites and print media.
Her stories have appeared in Hemispheres, Destinations Magazine, KUHL’s Born in the Mountain blog, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Far and Wide, Colorado Parent, Traveler Confidential, Family Circle- Momster, and others. Sandy is also the content coordinator for Golden Living, a Best Version Media publication mailed to Golden, Colorado residents. For this publication, she writes family and business feature stories and a monthly travel tip column.
Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an expat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone. To learn more about Sandy’s travel adventures, visit https://thetravelingbornsteins.com/