“Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.”
– Les Brown
As a physiotherapist, I often find myself hearing these statements from my patients as they age:
- “I can’t do the things that I used to do when I was younger. It’s impacting my quality of life.”
- “It’s taking me so much longer to do things that used to take me no time at all to do when I was younger.”
- “I am definitely not as flexible or as fast as I used to be.”
- “I have had to change the way I do things and adapt.”
- “Going up and down the stairs is really tough on my knees and hips.”
Even I find myself waking up with aches and pains that were not there before. And yes, my knees will periodically ache if I have gone up and down the stairs a lot or spent too much time kneeling or crouching. My low back will ache or stiffen up if I have done a lot of gardening or any activities that require me to be bent over for any length of time.
Does this sound all too familiar?
In my professional opinion as a physiotherapist, we should view these symptoms as a wake-up call to pay attention to what is happening with our bodies. It definitely requires a call-to-action, to either prevent things from worsening as we age, or to be proactive and prepare our bodies for what is the norm with the aging process.
Here are some things you can do to help promote a healthy lifestyle as you age. Following these tips will empower you to keep doing the things you love to do, for as long as possible.
Getting good exercise into your daily routine can make a difference in living a longer life. Two studies have shown that the sweet spot for activity and longevity is simply taking 7,000 to 8,000 daily steps or about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise on most days to increase our chances of long life. (Source: The New York Times, How Much Exercise Do We Need to Live Longer?)
Getting good exercise doesn’t have to be a strenuous activity. Even walking and swimming can help keep your body healthy. Canadians find walking to be the number one choice of physical activity. WalkBC recommends walking at a brisk pace, every day (preferably at least 3x per week) for at least 30 minutes (30 to 60 minutes is best).
Walking can help in:
- Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing high cholesterol
- Reducing body fat
- Enhancing mental well-being
- Reducing the risk of cancer in the colon
- Helping to control body weight
- Increasing bone density
- Helping osteoarthritis
- Helping to increase flexibility and co-ordination
Exercise also has other benefits besides keeping our bodies healthy. It can also help you build strong bones and slow bone loss, prevent constipation, provide better brain function and memory, help manage stress, and reduce depression. (Source: Mayo Clinic, Aging: What to expect)
Eating a Healthy Diet
According to the World Health Organization, a healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It helps protect our bodies against diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
A healthy diet comprises a combination of whole and natural foods. These include:
- Staples like cereals (wheat, barley, rye, maize, or rice) or starchy tubers or roots (potato, yam, taro, or cassava)
- Legumes (lentils and beans)
- Fruit and vegetables
- Foods from animal sources (meat, fish, eggs, and milk)
Consuming less salt, synthetic foods, sugars, and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats will go a long way in making yourself feel better. (Source: WHO, Healthy Diet)
Rethinking Food As Medicine
We eat medicine when we get sick but have you ever stopped to think that what we put into our body every day—what we eat—also affects our health?
Here are some great resources you can read and watch to learn more:
- Times Magazine: Why Food Could Be the Best Medicine of All
- Video from University of California: Let Food Be Thy Medicine
- Video from Dr. William Li & Mark Hyman: EAT THIS To Starve Cancer & Prevent Disease TODAY!
Get Your Body Checked Out By Medical Professionals
If you think about it, we take our car for maintenance and tune-up to make sure it’s performing properly. So why wouldn’t we do the same with our bodies? We should take better care of ourselves before major issues come up. A lot of times, they can be prevented or caught early on.
What to do
I would recommend the following steps to ensure your body is in good condition.
- Have an annual physical medical checkup with your family doctor, especially if you have not had one for a long time. This is especially important if you have any underlying medical condition that requires prescription medication or requires that you be under the care of a specialist.
- Book an appointment with a physiotherapist to get a Physiotherapy Assessment, which includes questions regarding your medical or physical history as well as a physical examination.
Why Go To A Physiotherapist?
You might be wondering, isn’t going to my family doctor enough?
Over my years of practice as a physiotherapist, I have witnessed too many of my clients not paying attention to the warning signs and symptoms (which can range from mild to severe) and not being proactive about taking care of themselves. They may then find themselves at a point in their lives where they have left it too late and now need a total joint replacement, with a long wait to get the procedure done. They suffer needlessly while awaiting it. For newly retired people, they might not be able to fully enjoy life after their working years because their body functions are limited to certain activities.
I would like to help as many people as I can enjoy a good quality of life, before reaching this point in their condition(s).
How It Works
As a physiotherapist with more than 30+ years of experience working with my clients, I can work with you on a plan of action to provide you with an Individualized Treatment Program, which may include:
- Physiotherapy with or without acupuncture. This decreases and controls any symptoms that are limiting your movement patterns.
- The prescription of an exercise program that will include: full body stretches, shoulder girdle-, low back- and pelvis stabilization exercises, strengthening exercises, and general body conditioning/cardiovascular exercises.
- Health and wellness education includes nutrition, footwear with or without custom orthotics, sleep recommendations, ergonomics as well as correct posture and body mechanics when working, playing sports, and activities of daily living.
- The above plan can be free-standing or combined with the activities and sports you love to do (including golfing, pickleball, gardening, etc.).
Be proactive and book an Assessment and Treatment session with me, the sooner the better, so that you can enjoy your best life.
Have A Positive Mindset
Aging is part of life and it happens to everyone. Actually, it’s good to acknowledge that your body is changing as you age so you are well aware of the changes that’s happening with your body and its limits.
Rather than seeing the glass as half empty, it’s better to see it as half full. If we have a positive outlook, we will enjoy our life much more. Enjoy the great outdoors, go out with friends on walks, and have fun with your kids or grandchildren by playing sports.
Taking proactive steps to live our best life can make you feel better—emotionally, mentally, and physically.
It’s never too late. Start today!
Be Proactive About Your Health! Book a Physiotherapy Assessment Now.
Acu-Pro Physiotherapy clinic is located in Coquitlam, BC.