Fitness

Sprightly at 60

A group exercising at the Marina. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan  

Comedian George Burns, probably got it right when he said that, “You can’t help getting older but you don’t have to get old.” And while science hasn’t yet come up with an elixir to reverse aging, we do have something that can help slow down the process — exercise.

A recent study published in The Journal of Physiology, that saw researchers examine the cardiovascular systems, lung health, neuromuscular structure, bone strength, metabolism and general health of 84 men and 41 women in the age group of 55 and 79 who exercised regularly, indicated that exercise had a positive impact on all these parameters. Not a surprise — regular exercise has always been touted as one of the best ways to look and feel better by healthcare providers, nutritionists, fitness professionals and even your grandmother.

Arun Krishnan’s sprightly demeanour is living proof of its benefits. All of 65, the former industrialist and proud grandfather has several marathons under his belt and is now training for a triathlon.

“I’ve been into sports since college. I started with swimming, then after college I began rowing. Running was part of my training then and I would run a couple of blocks every time I rowed. That is how I started running and I have been doing it for over 30 years now,” he says.

His exercise schedule seems brutal — his current routine includes running, swimming, cycling and rowing along with some resistance training. “I do some form of exercise five-six days a week,” says Arun. “I love the endorphin high of exercise; also, it prevents me from going to seed and keeps me very calm,” he smiles.

You don’t have to resort to such extremes to get tangible benefits, however. Thirty to 60 minutes of moderate exercise on most days a week is more than enough. The archive for geriatric medicine confirms it; the risk of lifestyle diseases is reduced by nearly half if you follow exercise guidelines.

R.B. Chandrasekaran, 64, who walks every day along the Marina, agrees. “I have been walking for 20 years now,” he says. “I started when I discovered that I developed hypertension, when along with medicine, I was advised to start walking. Now I feel much fitter and lighter, also my BP is under control,” he says. Dr. Nirmala Chandra, a yoga practitioner, also in her sixties, offers a similar story. “I am a doctor and I know how important it is to maintain a healthy Body Mass Index, especially since genetically I have a strong pre-disposition to hypertension and diabetes,” she says.

Though she has been physically active all her life, she says that yoga worked especially well for her, controlling her sugar levels and helping her feel light and fresh. “I have done yoga everyday for close to 10 years now and intend to do it all my life,” she says, adding that she also eats carefully, avoiding deep-fried food, processed carbohydrates and sugar.

Not Avudaiappan, however. “I eat what I like,” grins the enviably slim 72-year-old.  “I have maintained my weight at 57 kilos for the last 35 years just by walking,” he says.

Dr. Sheela Nambiar, a doctor and fitness consultant, founder-director of Total Life Fitness, believes that. “A fitter body stays young not just physically but mentally too. Preventing disease and disability is one of the greatest spinoffs of regular exercise — almost all lifestyle diseases can be controlled with it,” she says, adding, “There are far more older people exercising now. And unlike the younger lot, who take health for granted and only focus on physical appearance, they are very discerning and value good health too. For instance, in my own studio, I see a couple in their eighties who come there and do cardio, weights and stretches every single day. I’m glad people are realising that exercise enhances the quality of your life,” she says.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 12:13:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/sprightly-at-60/article6874742.ece

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