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CHAPTER 4


necessity of life, not just an option. After all, we may not be able to add years to life, but we can add life to the years we have by remaining as active as possible.


It’s true that there may be a decrease of physical ability for many in their 60s, others later, while some -- although not all -- people enter advanced old age still performing at the level of younger adults. But ageing and inability is not the same thing. Trouble is, today we use our brain instead of our brawn, often to the detriment of our physical wellbeing. We sit around too much at work and at home. Heart disease, joint problems, osteoporosis and digestive disorders are just some of the results. We need to get out of the habit of disguising physical and some mental problems as ‘just old age creeping on’.


It’s common sense to keep fit, and it’s easy to help yourself by simply being more active. Start by doing something you enjoy for half an hour a day. Walking, for example, is an excellent whole body exercise that will improve your health and keep you mobile. We can all get up off our bottoms and walk ourselves away from ill health and into a state of wellbeing! Importantly, walking strengthens the big front muscles of your leg (the quadriceps) helping you maintain mobility and physical independence as years go by. The quadriceps enable you to get up from a chair unaided and to climb stairs. Since walking is a weight bearing exercise it can also help prevent osteoporosis.


Research by the Mental Health Foundation recently revealed that just 10 minutes brisk walking can improve our mental state too. The report stated it increases self esteem and reduces stress and anxiety. And it concludes that people who regularly exercise have a 20-30 per cent lower risk of depression and dementia. It’s a fact that when we take exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released, giving us that


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