April 7, 2010

KENYA: Keeping fit and staying mentally alert in old age

. NAIROBI, Kenya / Business Daily / Life / April 7, 2010 By Kiruri Kamau We have just been to the Coast where we enjoyed a week of blissful sunshine. We headed back to Nairobi on Good Friday in time to avoid an extortionate holiday supplement which hotels usually slap on their rates, congratulating ourselves for being so clever in avoiding the mad rush southward and the rain. It pelted down the night before we left. President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila (with a little help from our foreign masters) have done a good job on the road and all things being equal one should be able to drive the distance in just over five hours. It, however, takes almost as long as it used to when one had to negotiate potholes and craters because trucks, trailers and kamikaze drivers have taken over the highway. Getting older, one can go to the gym and do a structured workout or plan to take a regular walk in the neighbourhood. Photo/PHOTOS.COM By the way, what does the draft constitution suggest we should do with obstructionist trailers, matatus and suicidal drivers? While at the Coast, I observed this old man, whom am told is 80 years plus, as I have always done every time I have stayed in this hotel. He scurries up and down the corridors clad in his khaki shorts and short- sleeved shirt. He walks, nay strides, faster than any other 80-year-old I know. Every morning at the stroke of six, the diminutive, sprightly old man with a hint of Mahatma Gandhi about him, is in the hotel swimming pool doing lap after lap of breaststroke before sitting down to a healthy breakfast. He repeats the routine in the evening. He then begins his rounds, visiting bars, the kitchen and the hotel grounds, chatting with workers and suggesting improvements here and there. The old man owns the hotel and I swear he is the most alert, hands-on 80-year-old employer I know. The secret The secret, which the old man has discovered, is that the longer you can remain physically active as you grow older, the longer you will be able to live an enjoyable and productive life. There are options from which you can pick exercises that you will enjoy doing. But as you get past 50 you should avoid high impact exercises like running and kung-fu fighting which can negatively jolt your bones, muscles and joints especially if you last exercised in high school. You can go to the gym and do a structured workout under the supervision of a trainer, but that will cost you. Alternatively, you can take a regular walk in the neighbourhood. There is always safety in numbers especially if you live in an unsafe area, but you can take care of such nuisance by carrying a studded Maasai rungu and wearing a mean look. The real reason for involving others is to help them get as fit as you and in return they will help you keep your commitment to exercising. The better option initially would perhaps be to get your spouse to buy into the idea of being your walking partner. You will, of course, attract some unwelcome attention from children (there goes potbelly and waddle-flesh again) but in a few months you might discover that you have started a walking movement that will go viral. Like Makmende. Swimming, however, is the best exercise for old people. It is safe (if you can swim that is), exercises every part of the body at the same time and is easy on the body, allowing you to move it without bearing your weight because water has approximately the same density as the human body. You could also take up golfing, but then that might mean using up all your retirement benefits to buy golf clubs alone and we don’t want you to end up destitute at Mji wa Huruma, do we? You, however, can keep yourself in shape by simply moving all the time. Stretch, walk, march in place, stand and sit as many times as possible, especially when talking on the phone. Another sensible alternative would be to take up gardening. In effect you will help cut down kitchen expenses while at the same time keeping fit. Or you can offer to wash linen, ha, ha. [rc] Source: Business Daily Africa