September 24th kicks off Active Aging Week, created by the International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA) to motivate people to celebrate aging and promote the many benefits of a healthy lifestyle—regular exercise, eating well, and keeping a “Can Do” attitude throughout life.
The theme this year—”Ignite Your Passion”—supports the idea that pursuing any passion—whether it’s running a company or running in a marathon—takes energy and stamina, two crucial ingredients that are hard to have if you don’t make health a priority.
I’m a good example of what a healthy lifestyle can do to spark a passion. Right before I turned 50, I packed on some extra pounds, not moving my body enough, and eating a lot of the wrong things (and very few of the right ones). Result? Low energy, loss of muscle mass, health check numbers that were nothing to write home about, and a general feeling of “So, this is what aging is all about?”
Clearly heading in the wrong direction, I decided to change my path with a few small steps. I started taking purposeful walks every day. Within a few months, my walks turned into runs—which got longer and faster—until I felt ready to reach my first big fitness goal: to run in the New York City Marathon. Now at 60, I’m training to run my fifth New York City Marathon, and feel stronger, fitter and better than ever.
You might think that my passion is running, but that’s only part of the story. My true passion is to stay healthy, fit, and vibrant so I can be independent and in control of my life, as long as possible. Running is only one of the many tools—along with strength-training, good nutrition and embracing my age—I use to achieve this goal.
Clearly I’m not alone in my desire to stay independent as I get older, as a new survey shows. ICAA recently joined forces with Abbott’s Ensure® “Can Do” campaign, and together they surveyed 600 people ages 50 and older to get a better understanding of our priorities, motivations and beliefs related to health, nutrition and activity. (Full disclosure: I serve as a spokesperson for Ensure.) Here are just a few of the highlights:
- BIGGEST MOTIVATIONS TO LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE Like me, the majority of respondents—72 percent—said that being able to stay independent was a top motivator for being healthy and active. Other motivators included traveling, spending time with family and staying employed.
- BIGGEST FEAR By far the biggest fear that respondents had was experiencing a health setback (39 percent), which makes complete sense. If one becomes debilitated by an injury, surgery, illness or anything that causes a risk to independence, it could have a direct, severe and lasting impact on employment and finances, and it could also place an unplanned burden squarely on the shoulders of family members, something 21 percent of respondents feared.
- LIFE-CHANGING REASON TO HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE Nearly all 600 (97 percent) respondents believe that having a positive “Can Do” attitude can add years to your life. What’s more, 98 percent of those who have suffered a health setback said a positive mindset was a crucial contribution to their recovery.
- ADVICE FOR YOUNGER SELF When asked what advice they would give to their younger selves, respondents said to “prepare for retirement” (30 percent) and “eat healthier” (27 percent). Surprisingly, actives such as spending more time with family and friends, traveling more, and following your dreams didn’t rank nearly as high.
As for me, I’ll kick off Active Aging Week by running 20 miles as part of my marathon training, followed by a healthy protein shake, and maybe a much-needed massage. Through it all, I’ll smile, basking in the knowledge that I’m doing everything I can do to live my best life after 50.
What’s your plan to celebrate Active Aging Week? Tell us all about it in the comments section, below.
For more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle, visit ensure.com.
Lastly, take a look at this short video, in which I share how I became a “Can Do” person!