Is it ever too late to make healthy changes?

IMG_3393Louth couple Mary and Pat Garbutt lost four stone between them at the start of last year. There’s nothing particularly unusual about a couple shedding a few pounds as the new year arrives, but what is unusual is their age; both of them are 72.

After years of poor health the duo shed their weight through a regime from Slimming World. The Grimsby Telegraph also reports that Pat gave up smoking, and because of his health success he could also give up insulin for his diabetes, and take part in more exercise.

While the Lincolnshire duo’s exploits will not win them any awards, the heart-warming story does illustrate the fact that it’s never too late to make adjustments to one’s life to improve it.

There are too many people of advanced years suffering from ill health who do not see the benefits of eating healthy, good food, moderate exercise and giving up bad habits.

Their point is twofold: they’re only going to get worse at this stage of life, and/or they’re in too much pain or discomfort to attempt movement. Money may also be a concern for joining a gym/slimming group, or eating differently, while people who have lived for several decades may find a shift in their routines too taxing.

As we age, hitting an ideal body weight tends to be more difficult. Some elderly people start to lose weight suddenly, and this can be just as dangerous as being overweight. The symptoms can include a higher risk bone fractures upon falling, and a deficiency of minerals. The NHS says that the simple solution is to eat more, but again this may involve discomfort or an alteration to the daily meal routine, or eating foods that the person has never tried before – and has no intention of consuming now. Perhaps starting gradually, aiming to put on half a pound or so a week through an extra snack or two, is the way forward.

Exercise may be more difficult for a person with aching joints and shortness of breath, but there is that ‘chicken and egg’ issue – losing weight will relieve pressure on limbs, which will enable an increased volume of exercise, and so on.

Even gradual changes will be felt and appreciated.

It’s tempting to admit defeat if you’ve spent 60 years attempting to give up smoking with no success, especially as you might believe that the damage is already done. However, research suggests that it is actually never too late to drop tobacco from one’s life. The results of a study by Archives of Internal Medicine, as reported in the Daily Mail, suggested that giving up smoking can still be effective for those aged 60 or over in that it could prolong their lives. It won’t be easy, and might require nicotine patches or gums, or perhaps Phoenix e-cig batteries and starter kits.

One last point – the fitter your body, the fitter your mind. By improving your physical strength and also exercising the organ in-between your ears through word games, social conversation, holidays and reading of thought-provoking material, you’ll feel much better overall – no matter your age.

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