The Lifestyle Habits of Successful Aging - It’s all about Behavior

Having recently returned from the excellent International Council on Active Aging Annual Conference in San Diego, I have been thinking about and talking even more than usual about lifestyle 'behavior' and how it relates to independence and quality of life in our 'Second Fifty. Here's the result of all that pondering! Back in 2004 the then Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Richard Cardoma was quoted as saying

Asking the Expert – making your own difference

When we want to ‘make a difference’ in our lives (get more active, get fit, lose weight, reduce stress etc), we go to an ‘expert’ for advice, guidance and, often, motivation. After all, an expert is usually someone who is highly trained and highly knowledgeable. This means that they know what to do. More importantly they know what YOU should do, what you ought to do (and of course what you have been meaning to do for some time!).

Options, Actions, Directions

If history is any judge, telling people what to do is not a great way of eliciting behavior change. As I have commented many times in different ways on this blog, goals are best achieved when they are truly/intrinsically important to the individual involved and when they have 'ownership' of the goal and the actions and directions leading to its achievement. However, offering 'options' rather than 'instructions' or 'tips' can be one way of eliciting this kind of 'intrinsic thinking'. So ... here are some great options that have worked for many people who were ready to become more active.

Little by Little

When I was in my earliest years as a University professor I remember my proud mother asking what exactly it was that I did as 'Dr. Phillips'. I said something like "I do a lot of research to find out what the benefits of exercise are for older people". She replied "Why do you need to do that? Everybody knows that exercise is good for you - especially if you are older". My whole carefully planned research agenda crushed by a loving parent in two short sentences!!

A little more higher energy usage

Just to follow up on my 'be a higher energy user' post today, I have included a graphical summary of information taken from the Surgeon General's Report (SGR) on Physical Activity and Health (and you just thought they talked about smoking!). The SGR was compiled by the brightest and best scientists in wellness, exercise and epidemiology. It was released in 1996 and was an enormous and exhaustive review of the scientific literature that examined the effect of physical activity on health. The "Physical Activity" in the title was defined as

Be a high(er) energy user, not a low(er) energy user

Opened up my email this morning and found a reference to something called "Parkour" and "Free Running". Since both of these were described as related to being active outdoors I checked them out. Parkour was initially developed in France and the name was taken from parcours du combattant, the classic obstacle course method of military training proposed by Georges Hébert a pioneering French physical educator, theorist and instructor. Free Running was developed out of Parkour.

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