We asked readers on Ideal-Living.com, is 60 the new 40? Here’s what two of them had to say:
“Yes, 60 is the new 40. But at 40 I was working and didn’t have as much time to take care of myself-eating better, exercising, socializing, reinventing myself. I was retired in my late forties (fortunately) but feel that I have been in a better place and time being in my sixties. I’m 64 today and glad to be here… We have so much fun at night in our retirement… [we] exercise our brains with card games, socializing and [don’t go] a day without laughter in our lives!” Mary Anne
“60 is the new 60. In general we are healthier with advancements for mental, coronary and joints. We can come up with creative ways to continue working in our profession part-time. We have all kinds of options for travel and leisure. And best of all, we can enjoy our lives and watch our children and grandchildren enjoy theirs. It’s a great time to be alive.” John
Sixty can be the new forty. Each of us has made numerous decisions throughout our lifetimes-how much we exercise, what we eat, and whether we choose to spend our spare time engaging in active or sedentary pastimes-that play a major role in determining how we age.
Those of us who have already passed the threshold of turning 60 are now faced with major decisions that, when we were in our forties, seemed far less consequential to our well-being. We now need to consider things such as: Should I eat that dessert? Should I sit around all day and relax because I am tired, or should I get out for some exercise and socialization? What kinds of activities do I need to consider that will keep my brain engaged and slow the inevitable aging process?
It is a great time to be alive. Today, we live in a world that does all it can to pamper us and to make us think that we are younger than our actual ages. We are constantly bombarded with advertising that leads us to believe that the “fountain of youth” is as close as the next libido pill. Pills will not do what good old Mother Nature designed our wonderful bodies to do in this world-be active!
The Pentagon of Health model allows us to look closer at some of the things that we should be doing in order to fulfill this notion that 60 is the new 40. This model calls for balance in five main areas: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.
Exercise regularly. Always remember that cardiovascular health is a top priority, and we all know why-heart disease is the number-one leading cause of death in the United States. Find something that your body will allow you to do and never stop looking for a variety of avenues to do cardiovascular activities on a daily basis. Many of us in our sixties aren’t running anymore, as that was the big craze during our younger years, so walk. If walking is out, bike, and if cycling is out, get in the swimming pool. The best solution is to do all of the above and then some more if you can. Find a cardiovascular activity that fits your health status.
Also, don’t forget resistive exercises. Lifting weights will always be good, but so are yard work and housework and swimming… and the list goes on. Many of us are still active tennis players and golfers, and we need to keep on doing those activities as long as we can. Perhaps your hobby is canoeing, fishing or kayaking. Whatever your preference, just get up and do things outdoors.
I keep reading that all of us should dance more in order to stave off Alzheimer’s and other related changes in our mental functioning. As a dancer and musician, I’m quite familiar with the value of these activities and the brain stimulation involved. I believe that it is really about finding an activity that you enjoy; the benefits for brain stimulation will follow. Our brains need to be involved and engaged daily in order to maintain a high level of functioning.
Now we can communicate with people instantaneously on the Internet, via cell phones, etc. However, for the most part these interactions do not take place face-to-face, and we lose the most important aspect of communication: nonverbal dialogue, which accounts for approximately 92% of our total communication with others.
Therein lies our dilemma. We need to be active to socialize face-to-face, and we need to get out of our houses and about our communities for socialization to occur. The social model for learning is the strongest model there is. Once we stop learning, we have begun to put our brains and our bodies at a significant disadvantage for higher levels of healthful living. By all means, get out and visit others as much as you can. It will enhance brain stimulation and growth, and can have great physical benefits as well. Certainly all five components of this model are important for balance in one’s life, but the social one is the one that tends to drop off at the fastest rate.
Psychiatrists and psychologists tell us that one in three people in the United States needs clinical help. There are many things that we can do to assist ourselves in this quest for overall balance. Perhaps the most important is to maintain balance in the other areas, and the emotional parameter of wellness will pretty much follow-barring the presence of underlying issues.
Emotional control is the result of many factors. Consider this: the hormonal balance in the body which controls our emotions can be altered by our lifestyles. Exercise, eating right and getting eight hours of sleep each night can contribute greatly to overall balance in our emotional lives. Increasing the hormones that help to make us feel good comes from achieving balance in all areas. A high level of benefit comes from exercise, as we produce more of the hormones that lead us to happier levels of living. Bottom line: get out and exercise.
This one is quite simple. Research is very clear that those who have spiritual components to their lives live longer, with less disease. Including a spiritual component in your life can be an important part of your quest to not only make 60 the new 40, but for 60 and beyond to be the absolute best times in your lives.
Almost two-thirds of the U.S. population is considered overweight or obese. Job number one is to determine if your energy inputs and outputs are balanced. One program that considers ideal food choices and adequate physical activity is the DINE Healthy software (www.dinesystems.com). You might want to give it a try.
Each of us has the opportunity to make choices that fit our personalities and lifestyles the best. I like the Chinese definition of the word “crisis,” which is that it can mean either “danger” or “opportunity.” I know that I have always chosen to view a crisis as an opportunity to get better and better throughout my lifetime.
What’s your choice?
John Bennett is the past president of the largest health promotion organization in the world, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. He is also a professor in the Health and Applied Human Sciences Department at UNCW.