National Executive Director, Active Aging Canada
As we age, our quality of life is foremost in our minds. Any older adult will tell you that they want to remain independent, stay healthy, and be able to make their own choices with respect to how and where they want to live.
No question as our body ages, it changes, and that can provide us with challenges. One of the best methods to face our challenges is to be active in our bodies and our mind. The science is unquestionable. The simplest pill to age well is to be physically and mentally active and try to eat so as to nourish your body and keep it healthy.
One of the best methods to face our challenges is to be active in our bodies and our minds.
Being active does not mean having to run a marathon but rather to move, go for a brisk walk, garden, ride a bike, whatever interests you and makes you feel good. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology has produced the 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Older Adults.
- Try to accumulate 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activities.
- Include several hours of light physical activities, including standing, each day.
- Get the blood flowing to your muscles and brain by breaking up long periods of sitting.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
We all have experienced difficulties with the pandemic. One issue that has been reinforced is the importance of staying socially connected with others, whether it be in person or virtually. Staying connected with others is crucial to our mental health and well being.
The most common types of disability among older adults are pain, mobility, and flexibility. Active Aging Canada recently released a booklet entitled Be Wise – Cannabis and Older Adults. Its purpose is to provide current research relevant to the effects, risks and benefits of cannabis for older adults. We found some valid research but more is definitely needed. Pain due to arthritis is one of the main reasons older adults may think about using cannabis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting many older Canadians. The symptoms can be caused by damage to the joint, inflammation, or nerve damage. Some older adults report that the CBD (non-psychoactive component) in cannabis helps them manage pain and be more active. While research studies in animals look promising, there are no studies in humans yet. There is no standard therapeutic prescription for cannabis. It must be personalized and requires some trial and error under the guidance of a medical professional to find the right product and dose.
It is never too late to make a change in your lifestyle and every small change will benefit your overall health. The key to keeping your independence and aging well is to be active in your body, mind and spirit; stay socially connected; and by all means have fun.
Remember, what you do everyday matters.