Elder Women and Eleanor's Hope
INTERESTING STUFF – 18 October 2014

Beer and Billiards for Healthy Aging

“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


Bowling and Beer not a bad combo either. I think it's not just the activity and level of exertion that matters, it's the happiness factor that probably does more good for our hearts and minds during these alternative activities compared to a 30 min aerobic exercise class that we drag ourselves to with an unwilling spirit.

I volunteer at our local senior center and I can tell you that the billiards room is a hot spot for both men and women...and there is no beer, only coffee and donuts. Many of these same folks are on the bowling teams too. Those who prefer less physical activities choose Wi bowling.
Another credible form of exercise for many, including myself, is volunteering to serve meals to low income seniors each day. This involves lots of fast walking, light lifting, bending, etc, along with socializing and having a few laughs.
We can't all climb mountains and run marathons...there are lots of alternatives.

Equating obesity with sloth is perpetuating another kind of stereotype.

This ridiculous emphasis on manic activity is death denial. A person doesn't have to climb a mountain or run a marathon to encourage health. I have a "beach cruiser" bicycle with a fat-ass seat, and I putter around the neighborhood at a nice slow pace. A half hour, max. I'm maintaining balance, breathing a bit harder, getting Vit. D, and saying hello to neighbors, all of which is a huge benefit. But I won't get profiled in AARP for it.

I live very close to Lake Erie & Ohio has a wonderful Metro Parks system with a wide range of activities & locally that's lawn bowling for both men & women. Altho' it's mostly a summer sport the folks that are involved are very devoted to it & have great times. It's even fun just to watch. And BTW, most everyone looks really snappy with straw hats & colorful sportswear. Dee

I think what matters most is to do what makes us happy. I think, perhaps, that longevity is not all it is cracked up to be.

Right ball, left pocket. I'd love to learn how to play billiards.

Jane, I also volunteer serving lunch at a nearby senior home a half day a week. It's a good workout, plus, isn't it great get to meet so many smart seniors?

I take slow meditating bike rides around the neighbourhood, perusing homes and gardens. It's good for the soul and heart.

Social interaction is very important in ageing healthy.

Lynne, puttering around the neighborhood on a beach cruiser with a "fat-ass seat" is exactly one of the ways I've always pictured retirement. Good for you!

I agree with pc winans--mere longevity in and of itself is not necessarily a positive thing. What's great about being 99 if you can't manage your most basic personal needs and don't know who you are? I disagree, in part, with Debi S.--socializing isn't as important to a born introvert as it probably is to extroverts. As with so many facets of life, it's an individual thing.

I just got back from Europe where a favorite pass time for old men is a game of boules, petanque, or bocci. They just need to include women!

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