Health is wealth when it comes to your future

3 Minute Read | Author: Amanda Phelan

The good news is we are living longer. This means it’s more important than ever to take care of your health. And the experts agree that with a few simple tweaks you can help make sure age shall not weary you.

Sleep, strength training and even sex are just some key activities that will boost your quality of life well into retirement.

At least eight hours in the land of nod is vital — even more important  than pay increases, fancy holidays or flashy cars, according to a recent landmark study carried out by Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research.

“Better sleep is the biggest single contributor to living better,” the study revealed.

Spending time with friends and loved-ones, going outdoors into nature and physical activities including a healthy sex life can also help your health and longevity.

And the good news is you can play a major role in shaping your future wellbeing: "We have way more control than most people think over the factors that affect ageing," says physician and professor at Stanford University professor Kelly Traver, author of The Program: A Brain-Smart Approach to the Healthiest You.

Sydney based fitness guru Aaron McKenzie agrees.

“Invest in your movement capacity now,” advises McKenzie whose cosy Origin of Energy Bondi gym is a favourite with a broad range of fitness fiends from all age groups, including the well known Bondi Rescue lifeguards, and Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello, a regular coach at Origin.

“There’s no point getting to retirement and realising your body has been moulded around a chair — move it or lose it, “ McKenzie tells Starts Today.

And a healthy body means a healthy mind, according to the experts.
“Engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at the US Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Raising the bar

University of Griffith’s Dr Belinda Beck, an expert on fighting musculoskeletal conditions including osteoporosis, stress fracture and osteoarthritis says resistance training is a must if you want your body to stay strong.

“Walking is great and is certainly recommended, but in reality, the thing which will make the most difference to quality of life as you age is muscle strength,” she says.

“Muscle is king because of the impact it has on many other things. When older people have the muscle strength to live independent lives, there is no doubt they are happier and more content.”

We are living longer so it’s important to live stronger, as levels of chronic disease are on the rise according to our national report card. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Australia’s Health 2016 report flags tobacco use, alcohol, high body mass and physical inactivity as the chief causes of preventable illness and the main causes of our increasing level of chronic illnesses.

On the positive side, Australians have cut down risky levels of smoking and drinking alcohol and these improvements are boosting life expectancy, with statistics showing boys are likely to live into their 80s (80.3), while the life expectancy for girls has reached the mid-80s (84.4).

Meanwhile the average retirement age is 61 for men and 59 for women.

This gives you more than 25 years to enjoy your golden years— a good time to set new goals. Take inspiration from US athlete Don Pellmann who was delighted when he broke five world records.

“I was not worried about medals but I’ve got more medals than I know what to do with. It’s been fun,” Pellman told reporters, thrilled with his triumph in track and field in the San Diego Senior Olympics. His age? 100. Lucky for the rest of us he started his Olympic quest in his 90s.