Tips for enjoying the Colorado mountains as you age (sponsored)
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 mental fountain of youth, what Marquez neglects is that our physical body is not immortal to the passage of time. But, with increased self-awareness and a few new habits the transition into middle-aged life can be a seamless process that retains a youthful spirit, outside and in.
Face it, you’re not 25 anymore
Jeannine Benson is an internal medicine doctor for Kaiser Permanente in Edwards. She works with some that have a hard time accepting this natural decline and often has to explain to the frustrated patients this natural part of life. She makes it her goal to move the patient away from frustration and towards plans moving forward in a safe yet still active manner.
“As we get older it can be difficult to do the exact same thing they used to do in their 20s and they can end up hurting themselves,” she explained.
One of the best ways a person can protect themselves is by staying on top of screenings and tests. Benson believes that both men and women should undergo cancer screenings specific to their gender on a routine basis. For women, mammograms and pap smears should be taken regularly while both women and men should make colonoscopies a high priority.
Another preventative measure that Benson points to is protecting oneself from the sun. Over a lifetime skin becomes increasingly susceptible to cancer with each sunburn and tan that occurs. Combine this with our high elevation UV exposure and you’ve got a perfect recipe for skin damage.
“We’re higher, so skin cancer can come sooner and so watching the skin, wearing sunscreen (is important),” suggested Benson.
It’s never too late to get healthy
Falling out of an active lifestyle can happen surprisingly easily with the onset of injuries or personal commitments. Even in Eagle County there are some who don’t exercise, and for these people, getting back into a healthy routine is imperative, especially as the body ages. However, if re-entering an active lifestyle, it’s important to no jump into the deep end right away.
“I … encourage people not to go crazy the first day. They can either go hurt themselves or feel discouraged or won’t continue to push themselves or get more active. Start slow and build up to it,” Benson explained.
Finding a friend or partner to join in on the active play can also help with motivation and make getting back into shape less of a chore. Benson stresses that the level of activity must be decided on a case-by-case basis with patient and doctor, but her general attitude is to push people towards their highest potential. After all, getting older doesn’t mean you have to stop doing what you love, it just means that you have to start pursuing activities in a way that loves your changing body.
“Outside the front door of my house I have 30 miles of bike trails I can just hop on, and so that makes it so much easier for all us to stay active up here,” explained Benson. “I’m a fan of people staying as active as they can as old as they can, and that’s my job to help them do that.”