Reading the breadth of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, focused on supporting a healthy longevity; I started and stopped at Priority 1 of its five priorities. Priority 1 hits the nail on the head. Interactive and holistic, it highlights how the accumulative benefits of combining Biological, Psychological and Social factors contribute towards healthy aging. Working the equation, it comes down to combining practical activities, something each individual can control.
Biological: The Cardiovascular system is one of the ten systems that keeps our bodies going; a major contributor for healthy aging. More and more, the health professions are promoting exercise, “Cardio” is a term the media favours. That means get moving. The more we move, the more often we move and the more we increase our levels of activity the better our cardiovascular system works.
Psychological: Enhancement of life is a skill developed by life experience. We now know a change of scene can change a mood. Experiencing nature – greenery, trees, waters are proven mood lifters and can heal the psyche. In urban areas people watching is 24 hour a day street theater and comes without a big-ticket price.
Social: Real time interaction with friends and neighbours helps us maintain social support systems. Talking on the phone or Skype is not the only way to stay connected; sometimes we need to focus on topics without the structure of home and phone. Again getting out and about is the way to go.
So what brings these three important factors together?
“Twalking” I call it. Start the walk slow, picking up the pace as you become fitter. You can tell if the pace is safe if you can talk and walk without panting for breath. Can we “twalk”? Having a walking-buddy motivates us to exercise. The bonus in the making of this part of the equation is that a walking group provides a social network, offering a psychological outlet for airing everyday life challenges.
So now that we know how to easily contribute to healthy longevity at little or no cost then we can do the math on healthy aging – B+P+S = A Healthy Longevity.
Mary Ellen Tomlinson