Something happened the other day…something that has left me excited and inspired to write this blog.
Before I describe this event , I want you to create a vision in your mind of your 86 year old self. Think about what that would look like. If your anything like me, you thought getting older means loss. Loss of mobility , of memory, of muscle tone; it means finding yourself in a body that struggles to move with ease, without pain and with little flexibility. This preconceived notion was merely a product of my perception as a paramedic. Each patient I have picked up over the age of 75, struggling with their health and physiological function. I saw the aging process to be the slow destruction of muscle mass and cell health. In many ways there is much truth to this and theories that support the idea that aging is the “consequence of free radical-induced damage to cellular macromolecules” (1) In English, this basically means that aging is the result of oxidative stress and the production of free-radicals. With my adopted knowledge base as a nutritionist, I learned that as much as free-radicals can be destructive to cells – contributing to the aging process; a diet rich in antioxidants (found in fruits and vegetables) has actually been proven to prevent and repair cellular damage by these “free-radicals” AKA little Tasmanian Devils that whip around the body causing destruction along the way. Antioxidants “calm” free radicals, making them non-destructive and its when there is an imbalance of free-radicals to antioxidants that this cell damage results. (2)
So with good nutrition the rate at which the human body ages will decrease… who thought this was even a possibility!!?? Controlling the aging process – what a phenomenon and just when you thought you were doomed !! Now what about muscle atrophy (muscle wasting) and movement?? How can we prevent a rapid decline in the bodies ability to stay mobile and strong ??
Well let me tell you my story…
While at work one day, I picked up an 86 year old patient complaining of abdominal pains. We carried this little old lady down the front steps of her home and loaded her onto our stretcher Once arriving at the hospital and giving our report to the nurses, we then prepared to unload our patient. Aligning our stretcher with the hospital bed, we offered to transfer her over. She stated ” no, I can do it”, as she jumped off the stretcher onto the bed almost with cat-like-maneuvers!! My partner and I looked at each other in astonishment, over the graceful, flexibility of this small aging woman. I asked her ” how old are you again?”, “86!” she proclaimed. “I hope that I can move that easily when I am your age”, I replied. Her friend piped up ” she does yoga everyday and she is the best in her class!!”
Feeling empowered to share this story with the world I was completely inspired !! Not only can you slow the aging process eating lots of fruits and vegetables but you can maintain the flexibility of a 20-year-old by continuing to move, stretch and strengthen your body. In actuality the body is like an elastic band…if you don’t stretch it you won’t increase it’s elasticity. “We can totally improve mobility even as we age”, says Bikram yoga master Meghan Huehn, owner of Bikram Yoga Barrie. Even I made a conscious, mental, intention, to be more dedicated to a yoga practice; your never to young to slow down the aging process. I owe this new found excitement to my patient. Who knew she would be the inspiration of a blog, reaching hundreds of people !! Rid your minds of those stereotypical images of aging, think of the exciting possibility of mobility!
The essence of my message in todays blog is if your 25, 35, 55 or even 85, the only limitations you truly have physically are the those that you impose on yourself. This ideal that aging requires us to stiffen up, use walkers, canes and wheelchairs is a thing of the past!! Lets be an aging civilization that can still dance when we are 90!! Yoga, walking, fruits and vegetables, a simple solution to break these limiting conceptions!!