“Active aging” is what they call it. You know, all that bungee jumping, marathon running and climbing high mountains they tell us old people need to do these days to stay healthy.
No slacking off with a nap in the afternoon when you can speed ride your bike 15 miles to the gym for an hour or two on the elliptical. Active aging is the key to a healthy old body and brain they tell us these days – exercise, exercise, exercise.
Within more reason, I don't disagree but I think a recent report on other kinds of activity has a great deal of merit:
”...to equate active ageing strictly with health is too narrow a focus, new research from University of Copenhagen shows; the elderly can reap social and health benefits from activities that do not necessarily conform to official life style recommendations - billiards for instance.”
The researcher, Aske Lassen, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen's Centre for Healthy Ageing, explains further:
“Playing billiards often comes with a certain lifestyle, drinking beer and drams for instance, and I am quite sure this was not what WHO [World Health Organization] and EU [European Union] meant when they formulated their active ageing policies.
“But billiards does constitute active ageing. Billiards is, first of all, an activity these men thoroughly enjoy.
“That enhances their quality of life while immersing them in their local community and keeping them socially active.
“And billiards is, secondly, very suitable exercise for old people because the game varies naturally between periods of activity and passivity - and this means the men can keep playing for hours.”
Mr. Lassen's work has led him to believe that we need a less restrictive definition of healthy aging. He continues:
”The question is how we define 'good ageing' and how we organise society for our ageing generations.
“We therefore need a broader, more inclusive concept of healthy and active ageing that allows for the communities the elderly already take part in and that positively impact their everyday lives, quality of life, and general health.”
None of us is very good at moderation. Here in the U.S., the obesity epidemic speaks to our collective sloth while Silicon Valley is inventing gadgets to monitor our every waking (and sleeping move).
Billiards and beer – or their regional equivalents – return some sanity to the question of what active aging should be.You can read more about Aske Lassen's work here and here.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: Plunging My Poundage