Most people are aware that the average lifespan of Americans has increased dramatically in recent years; in 1980 it was 74 years, and today it is 78. The downside is that health issues, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, have become more common. Research has found that by taking regular exercise and keeping fit, especially into middle age, many of these problems, which become debilitating by the time you reach your 70s or 80s, can be avoided.
Before you become discouraged, it should be pointed out that exercising need not mean spending several hours a week in a gym. Walking is a great form of low-impact aerobic exercise, and 20 or 30 minutes a day is all you need to improve your overall level of fitness. To add a little variety, you could try cycling and jogging; perhaps you could join a local club and make keeping fit a way of meeting new friends. If you have been deterred by stiff, sore and swollen joints following a long walk or cycle ride, compression sportswear could be the answer. Depending on the type of exercise you are participating in, there are shorts, shirts, socks and sleeves – for example, compression shorts worn for several hours afterwards have been shown to improve circulation and blood flow to the heart.
Of course, maintaining physical fitness is just one aspect of staying healthy well into old age, and psychological wellbeing is equally important. With that in mind, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you are into your fifth, sixth, seventh or even eighth decade, you are too old to try something new. There is no age limit on skydiving, bungee jumping, and white water rafting, taking a flight in a microlight, or driving a powerful sports car around a racetrack.
There are skydiving clubs in all parts of the country that offer tandem jumps to people with no experience. Governed by the US Parachute Association, there are dozens of reputable clubs and booking agencies to be found in every state. Even people aged over 100 have skydived for the first time, so you have no excuses!
If high performance cars are more your thing, then you can drive a dragster or Formula 2000 car, or sit alongside a professional racing driver in a NASCAR-type stock car and be driven around a circuit at racing speeds. Alternatively, you might prefer to take the wheel of an exotic Ferrari or Lamborghini around a racetrack and be given expert advice and training on how to go faster.
If you need a little help deciding which adrenaline-rush adventure to choose, you could have friends and relatives surprise you on your next birthday by clubbing together to buy a voucher from one of the many companies offering a range of experiences, from wing-walking to swimming with sharks.
The only limiting factor to what you are able to do is in your head, so shake off such thoughts, think of something exciting you have always wanted to try, and start searching the internet. There is sure to be a company not too far away organizing the type of experience day you are looking for.