Tips for enjoying the Colorado mountain lifestyle as you age
September 13, 2016
By Leo Wolfson, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente
"Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom." — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Love In The Time of Cholera"
Although true that with a positive outlook on life our spirit and ambitions can bask in a never-ending fountain of youth, what Marquez neglects is that our physical body is not immortal to the passage of time. Our bodies naturally degrade over time and it's up to the individual to do their best to keep it in shape. Luckily, with implementation of a high self-awareness and a few new habits the transition into middle-aged life can be a seamless process that retains our inner youth.
A new ballgame
One of the many aspects that makes our mountain region unique is the active nature of our populace. Obesity is low and with the natural playground that exists in our backyard, finding motivation to get outside isn't difficult. But even a healthy culture has its own set of challenges.
Being healthy now doesn't stop injuries and diseases from lurking around the corner. Listening to general aches and pains as well as not pushing the body too hard can be a challenge for those who are active, especially those who have a hard time grasping that they're not 25-years old anymore.
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"We often see folks as they get older having some arthritis issues and in cases of arthritis we will often direct people to activities like water aerobics and swimming that don't put as much stress on joints," said Dr. Carol Venable of the Kaiser Permanente Frisco Medical Office.
Staying on top of necessary vaccinations and screenings may seem like a small task, but many struggle integrating these check-ups into their routines.
"For those active folks, sometimes we get busy and say, 'Oh I don't really need to do that,' but sometimes that's the basic stuff that keeps you going and allowing you to do what you want to do," explained Venable.
The Summit sun
Especially pertinent in the High Country is the risk for skin damage. UV rays are stronger at our high elevation, making for a greater risk of sunburn. The risk of getting skin cancer naturally rises as you age, so wearing SPF 30 or higher sunscreen and clothing that shades from the sun should always be made a priority.
"A lot of people here are very active outdoors, which is great and I would never want to limit that, but again, you get a lot of (UV) exposure," said Venable. "An under-emphasized piece is wearing clothing that blocks sun — the lightweight long-sleeve shirt, the hat with the big brim that maybe is not always super fashionable," Venable laughed.
Getting back into it
Falling out of an active lifestyle can happen surprisingly easily with the onset of injuries or personal commitments. Even in Summit, there are some who don't exercise, and for these people getting back into a healthy routine is imperative. Finding the motivation to get back into exercise can be difficult, but Venable believes if approached in the right way, it is very attainable.
"Maybe that's taking a walk at lunch if you get a lunch break, or walking the dog first thing in the morning," explained Venable. "One of the areas I see people struggle with that a lot is how do you fit that into your schedule that's already over-flowing. I try to start people with something they feel is manageable."
Getting the muscles moving and the blood flowing creates for better physical and mental health to enjoy the amazing mountain environment that we live in.
"The good thing up here is there are so many different activities they can engage in either outdoors or through fitness facilities, recreation centers," said Venable. "People have a lot more options here than many other parts of the country."
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