It’s a well-known fact that Hong Kongers, as well as the rest of the world, have a longer lifespan than a hundred years ago. But a longer lifespan for the people of Aberdeen, Hong Kong doesn’t necessarily mean better quality of life. Instead of enjoying the golden age, most people spend more years living with some chronic disease. What is especially shocking is that more and more people start suffering from chronic diseases earlier in life. This basically means that they will spend the last 10, 15, 20 years of their life battling ill health and missing out on all the joys a healthy body (and mind) ensures.
Age-related sarcopenia begins after age 30. This means that at some point in the 30ies, the body begins to lose muscle mass and function. And loss of muscle mass means loss of strength and mobility. People who live inactive lives lose their muscle mass at a faster rate than those who incorporate some sort of exercise in their daily lives. Except sarcopenia there are a number of health concerns that crop up during middle age, like heart disease, bad cholesterol levels, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression, bone loss through menopause, etc.
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So, what can you do to prevent such a scenario? Obviously, you cannot control everything that happens to you. But, what you can do is start taking care of your health right now. There is no time like the present, right?
Regardless of age, fitness is always important to our health. And middle age is the right time to invest in your future health. A healthy and active lifestyle can slow down or even prevent a number of diseases. As we age our metabolism rate slows down and it gets easier to accumulate unwanted fat. Living actively ensures a fit and healthy figure and slows down the aging process. It is also an investment for a more independent life well into our senior years.
Imagine being able to play with your grandchildren, lift them, walk up the stairs, pursue hobbies and simply be able to enjoy golden age without the burden of ill health. This is why it is important to make time for a stable exercise routine during middle age. So, how much exercise are we talking about here? Actually, not that much. Adults can gain substantial health benefits with just 20 minutes a day of moderate exercise or just 10 minutes a day of vigorous exercise.
Moderate exercise includes walking (normal speed of 4kph), biking slower than 16kph, dancing or gardening. After 10 minutes of moderate exercise you’ll start sweating but you’ll still be able to hold a conversation. You’ll breathe faster but you won’t completely lose your breath.
If you exercise vigorously you’ll be challenged physically. You won’t be able to hold a conversation, you’ll breathe deep and fast and you’ll start sweating just a few minutes into your routine. Vigorous activities include jogging or running, biking faster than 16kph, hiking uphill, heavy gardening like digging, etc.
No matter whether you chose a light or vigorous routine, take care of your muscles. A good fitness plan, especially one designed for fitness over 40 year olds, should include a solid muscle strengthening component. At least 2 days a week should be dedicated to muscle strengthening activities that target all of the major muscle groups and each muscle group should be repeatedly stressed 8 to 12 times per workout session.
20 minutes a day is just 2% of your waking hours. Don’t you think that your health is worth more than those 20 minutes a day? Sticking to an exercise routine can be challenging, especially during your 40ies and 50ies. Fitness takes less priority over family, work and that altogether busy Hong Kong lifestyle. But to overcome these challenges keep in mind your goals. Remind yourself ‘why’. Not being frail and having control later in life, being able to lift groceries as well as grandchildren, reducing the risk of disease, not having to take those high pressure or cholesterol pills – there are all reasons why you should stick to your routine. Get a fitness partner, ask your friends, kids or spouse to hold you accountable, or visit us at our studio in Aberdeen, Hong Kong and get professional help in creating a routine and sticking to it.