I have just spent a wonderful weekend learning the ropes of endurance riding. We were down in Allegany State park, where we usually horse camp. The woman teaching me is 68 years old, she just recently stopped competing, as much because of her horse as anything. For those that don’t know, endurance riding has some similarities to trail riding, much of it in our area uses the same trails for both, but for endurance you ride them as fast as possible, and the distances are from 25-100 miles. The one I am preparing for will be 35 miles, a bit longer than the usual “short ride”.
Did I have a reason for telling you this? Two, actually. First, it is simply more encouragement that staying active is the key to a healthy later life. Ainsly, the woman who was teaching me hauled her own horse down, set up camp, rode the two days and packed up horse and camp to go home. At 68. When most people are saying “I’m too old for that.” I’m not saying she wasn’t sore and stiff at times. But the point is that she could do what she wanted.
The second point is that when you are active, you can do more, with less effort. Ainsly and I did things when we got back to camp, rather than needing a nap. I won’t say who needed the nap, but it was the one who hates exercise. Also, we could see what we were doing as fun, rather than a chore. Let’s face it, everything active requires effort(Thank you Captain Obvious). Unless you want to be a spectator to life, you have to keep yourself in good enough shape to do those things you love. If you want to bicycle in the summer, you have to exercise in the winter. If you want to hike on the weekends, you have to do workouts during the week. You have to set that as a routine when you are young, as it isn’t as necessary then, but you need the habit established for when you get older.
Oh, and I had a third point too. Surprise! Seriously, doing one activity leads to another. I wouldn’t have gotten into weight lifting if it wasn’t for Karate. I wouldn’t have thought about endurance riding if the desire for more challenges wasn’t awakened by karate and weight lifting. My friend Marlene is always talking about instant Karma, that everything you do impacts others. The same is true inside your own life. Positive steps create positive steps. Whatever road you are on is the one you will keep going on. Fitness and exercise leads to more fitness and exercise. Bad choices lead to more bad choices. Just take one baby step at a time in the direction you’d like to go, and see where it gets you.
I just read an article that supports my contention that exercise is the closest thing to a fountain of youth. Here is an excerpt:
“In fact, there’s only one practice that’s been proven, without question, to preserve your memory: exercise. “Aerobic activities tend to show larger effects than non-aerobic activities,” University of Pittsburgh psychologist Kirk Erickson tells Yahoo.
Working up a sweat helps your mind stay fit better than any crossword puzzle–unless you’re doing that crossword on a treadmill.
The good news is that you don’t need to run a marathon. Just walking six miles a week can ward off memory disorders caused by aging, according to Erickson’s research published this month in the medical journal Neurology. “It appears that if people start exercising their memory may improve and if you continue to exercise, that might delay, or offset, the age-related decline in memory,” he explains.
And you don’t need to lift any heavy barbells either. Erickson and his team monitored 300 senior adults over a period of 13 years, and found that those who walked between 6 and 9 miles a week—whether to work or with the dog–had half the brain deterioration of those who didn’t. “Exercise seems to enhance some of the more fundamental properties of our brain,” Erickson explains. “It increases the growth of new cells and improves cellular processes associated with learning and memory.” To put it simply, walking keeps your gray matter from shrinking. And the more matter, the more mind.
Another study published earlier this year suggests exercise can actually help your brain grow. A moderate workout may generate new brain cells. And not just any brain cells, but cells that specifically help to distinguish between memories, so each recollection stands out. It’s the kind of function you rely on every day, says Tim Bussey, one of the authors of the Cambridge University study. “[These cells help with] remembering which car parking space you have used on two different days in the previous week.”
But exercise isn’t the only way to keep tabs on your parking spot. There are some supplemental practices that doctors recommend in addition to a regular walk-a-thon. Diets rich in Omega fatty acids are instrumental in keeping your brain from aging. Two servings of salmon a week, provides ingredients that support brain tissue and enhance nerve cell function. Balancing fish with the other elements of a Mediterranean diet, like fruits and vegetables, has been found to lower the chances of cognitive decline. When it comes to memory retrieval, self-testing can be beneficial. In other words, pausing between paragraphs of an article and asking yourself to paraphrase the information, or repeat a fact. It can’t hurt if that article is written in another language. Bilingualism, says one new study, helps ward off Alzheimer’s for up to four years. But it doesn’t prevent the disease altogether. Your best bet: Walk it off.”
The full article is on yahoo.