Busyness: health and older age

“We are always doing something … talking, reading, listening to the radio, planning what next. The mind is kept naggingly busy on some easy, unimportant, external thing all day” Brenda Ueland.

August 11th in my Meditations for Women book

On the 13th it reminds us that we women who do too much enjoy an / our illusion of control – we cannot afford to relax because we might lose our control on the reins – we ‘trick’ ourselves into fitness with more stress management self-help books and workshops, we exercise regularly, we eat the right foods and check the magazines to ensure we have enough of the latest fad food whether it be blueberries or broccoli or…

Or at least we claim to as the statistics show that women are having more heart attacks than they used to.

The newspaper ‘the MailOnline’ reports today (August 14th, 2013)

Even simple tasks such as getting in and out of bed or climbing ten steps without a rest prove a challenge. And with fast food, lack of exercise and a growing reliance on computers and other technology, the future could be even bleaker.

Researcher Teresa Seeman said: ‘The baby boomers, whatever health benefits they’ve enjoyed up until now, may not enjoy such a rosy old age.’ Professor Seeman compared the health of thousands of men and women in their 60s, 70s and 80s with data on different people of the same age collected ten years earlier.

She found that one in five of the 60-somethings polled needed help with basic day-to-day activities – up more than 50 per cent on a decade earlier. Those just over 60 are 70 per cent more likely to have difficulty walking from room to room, getting in and out of bed and eating or dressing.

Their problems did not end there. They were also 50 per cent more likely to have trouble walking a quarter of a mile or climbing ten steps without a rest. Stooping, crouching, kneeling and getting up from a chair proved 40 per cent more troublesome, the American Journal of Public Health reports.  Although the data was collected in the U.S., the researchers say there is no reason to believe the UK is not similarly affected. British adults, for instance, are the second fattest in the developed world after the U.S.

(Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1227670/Health-timebomb-hits-baby-boomers-Over-60s-suffer-illnesses-caused-bad-diet-lack-exercise.html#ixzz2bxT5w7v3)

British experts echoed the warning. Cary Cooper, professor of health psychology at Lancaster University, said our ever-growing reliance on technology is harming our health. And he warned that the impact will be even greater in years to come, with the pensioners of the future having spent many more years sitting in front of a computer than those of today.

And there I was thinking that I was healthier my grandparents! After all, despite my arthritis I walk and swim and am still working, even if part-time and our friends do the same. Yet we have been somewhat dismayed to hear our friends’ lists of increasing health issues and now I wonder if perhaps the health people have it somewhat right. Personally, I don’t believe it all as I don’t know anyone in my circle of friends who is quite as ill as they mention – difficulty walking from room to room, getting in and out of bed and so on. Sure we are often stiff when we get out of bed or a chair and yes, increasing numbers of us are having knee and hip replacements or other ‘improvements’ – after all I’ve been there several times and will soon be having another such operation on my knee to stop the arthritic clunking.

We are also going to be living longer than previous generations and this will, no doubt, give us health issues that our parents’ and grandparents did not suffer – sheer wear and tear – more running and exercise wears out the joints quicker – more years of walking on that spine or knee is going to be felt no matter how healthy we are. The illnesses of old age will be ours to suffer.

So, is it our busyness that is making us unwell too? Did we try to do too much? Were we seduced into thinking we could have it all – a career, children and success with a home running smoothly and this has put too much stress on our bodies? After all, it is the baby boomer generation of women who stretched out to professions and tapped on that glass ceiling to see just how strong it was. Did all our reading and trying for healthy lifestyles just put off the inevitable by a few years? Or were they cancelled out by the stressful busy lives?

I was once told, find a busy person when you want something done, they are the people who can make it happen – those with little to do cannot perform – and I’m afraid, that for much of my life, I have been that busy person and thus have ended up with lots to do and often stressed as I attempted too much – an ‘A’ personality.

What now? Where do we go from here? Should we try and be more healthy? And what could that mean? Do we actually try and stop and stare and not be busy? And if we do that will we be bored? Should we be bored? Will boredom bring benefits I wonder? Certainly attempting to walk a long distance for charity would not be the way forward for me – maybe my exercise has actually meant my knee has worn our faster! So any suggestions?

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