By: Anthony Campo
Through hormonal changes and wear and tear on our bodies, we begin to decline. The good thing is that through our life choices we have a great deal of control over just how much change will occur. If we just let nature take its course, and start doing less and less every year then our bodies will begin to breakdown, and our quality of life will decline over time. However, if you focus on not doing less, and in fact doing the same or more each year you have the ability to maintain or even increase your quality of life as you get older. I have spoken of Wolf’s Law in the past which states that your body adapts based on the demands placed on it. So simply put, if you are doing less each year then your body will adapt by declining to the level that is required for you to perform that reduced amount of activity. On the other side, if you do the same or more each year your body will adapt by being able to keep doing those activities, or doing the new ones you have added in.
So the take home point is that if you are not ready to throw in the towel, keep doing the things you have always done, or have a plan that is steering you in the right direction to be able to do those things once again. Once you are able to do the things you have always done, work towards setting personal records every day, week, month, and year to maintain progress as you get older.
One trick I have designed for individuals looking to extend and improve their quality of life, is to comprise a list every year of the activities that you have done in the past but no longer do. Since New Year’s is coming up this would be a great time to do this. Any activities that you are no longer doing try to make a conscious effort to begin doing, or work towards doing them once again. In addition, choose at least one new activity that you have never done before in order to continue positive body adaption for the upcoming year. This could be a new exercise you would like to become proficient in, or even a new hobby. Try to stay away from general statements like “start exercising,” or “eating healthier.” Choose more specific activities that can be quantified over time so that you can measure improvement. For example one year you can focus on improving breathing patterns and muscle recruitment while performing daily activities in order to improve posture and balance along with preventing injury. This can be quantified by having less pain or less falls.
Another example would be if you are recently retired choosing an activity like volunteering to keep you motivated to improve yourself and others every day. It is amazing how something so simple can really work towards extending and improving your quality of life as you get older.
So every year, make a list of any activities you are no longer doing, the shorter that list becomes the longer your quality of life will be.