It’s clear we require physical ability to navigate the world. Maintaining a healthy physical self is a prerequisite to a healthy longevity and is not as difficult as often thought. At a minimum, it’s about continuing to move with a deliberate regimen or, even more importantly, as a way of life. As our society becomes more sedentary, all are affected adversely by the reduction in our daily movement, but older adults are overrepresented in the resulting decline.
What to do about this? MOVE. We applaud a visit to the gym, a walk, swim, or bicycle ride. However, if the rest of the day regularly involves sitting, we have a disconnect. We, humans, are meant to move as our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, and we thrive when we do. This movement need not be heroic feats but simple daily movement… walking vs. driving, biking vs. driving, parking further from the destination, taking stairs, frequent walking, and other creative ways to keep our body in motion and garner excellent outcomes. And once our day involves more movement, then building strength, power, flexibility, and balance are logical additions to our physical efforts.
The research is very clear that our heads work better, our hearts work better, our muscles work better, our brains are more vital, our bones are stronger… everything works better… when we move. We are creatures of movement. We can markedly diminish and even eliminate the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle: heart disease, dementia, cancer, stroke, and diabetes by making regular movement part of our day.
In addition to movement, our physical health requires appropriate nutrition and sleep. We cannot hope to meet life’s challenges with resilience if we neglect the fuel we need and the regular regeneration that comes with proper nutrition and sleep. Our species has consumed a diet of fruits, nuts, vegetables, wild grains, fish, and small amounts of meat… a Mediterranean-type diet for most of our long history, and so should we. And sleep is not, as many of our production-oriented zealots would have us believe, a luxury or a waste of time. Sleep is a non-negotiable regeneration of our body systems.
Our bodies are how we experience our lives. Taking care of this irreplaceable mobility miracle makes sense.