Will you choose to age fearlessly? Here’s how to focus on your health so you can age on your own terms.
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Some people embrace getting older, while others resist the idea. Either way, your age is just a small portion in the big picture of who you are.
Karen Sander, author of Ageing Fearlessly, champions the idea of not letting age define you. “We get caught up in thinking that we get to a certain age and we’re old, which is a stereotype,” she says. “Ageing is inevitable, but we have a choice in how we do it.”
That choice is simple, Sander believes: to let the stereotypes get the better of you, or to pave your own way. “There are two ways you can age: in fear – that is, you can put all those negative thoughts into your head about ageing – or you can do it fearlessly,” Sander explains. “Ageing fearlessly means embracing life, taking challenges and stepping out of your comfort zone.”
There’s no reason not to be fearless about this stage of your life, Sander adds. “It can be such a wonderful time: you’ve learnt a lot about yourself by now and you can age with some peace and wisdom – and fearlessly.”
How to stay healthy for ageing well
The ideology behind this idea of approaching age without fear is to do so on your own terms, and that, Sander says, means looking after your health, fitness and wellbeing. Here’s how:
- Be proactive. It’s important to stay on top of your health and wellbeing, and take some control over any health situations you find yourself in. Sander advises, “Don’t avoid it; we all know that things get worse when you put them off. Address things as they come up.” She adds that it’s a good idea to see your healthcare provider regularly, armed with questions, and leave those appointments with answers for how to best manage your health.
- Move regularly. Keeping a regular exercise routine – even one as simple as walking each day- will help you maintain that movement in the long run. This only becomes more important as you get older. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Sander. “If you let yourself go, it’s harder to get back to a good position of living a strong, healthy life.”
- Find things you enjoy. Fitness doesn’t have to mean slogging it out in a gym, unless of course that’s what you love. Either way, Sander says you’re more likely to move regularly if you’re doing something you find fun. “You need to find things you’re passionate about and it’s great if that has a community around it, too,” she suggests. There are likely to be some great exercise groups, whether it’s swimming, tennis, dancing, golf, yoga or walking groups, in your local area.
- Look after your mind. While physical health is important, your mental health is vital to care for, too. The good news is that the two are tied together: exercising, finding things you’re passionate about, trying new things and being social are some of the best things you can do for your mental health. This will help to maintain your brain health and prevent the onset of mental illnesses such as depression.
- Get social. Finding active hobbies that have a social aspect around them adds another element of enjoyment. Some groups also find ways to give back to the community or arrange activities outside the regular exercise time, which can be really satisfying, too. “It’s a great way to make new friends and meet new, interesting people,” says Sander. She suggests trialling a new exercise group on your own, rather than taking a friend along, as this can encourage you to chat to new people.