A setback in health is often a catalyst for change. I considered lifestyle changes when I failed a treadmill test at 45 and had to take an angiogram to understand the damage to my heart. I was anxious as I awaited the procedure in a hospital in Chennai. It was relieved when I heard the doctor say, as I was drowsy under the influence of a mild anesthesia, that there was nothing much to worry about. It was a mild disorder and wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I realised the need to take greater care of my health.
Dr. Dean Ornish’s book, ‘Programme for reversing heart disease’ influenced me on my journey towards good health. I learned that good health requires a holistic approach with physical activity, proper nutrition and eating habits and managing stress. Also, the influence of family support, social engagement and spiritual pursuits have on our sense of wellbeing and good health. We address the root cause of diseases when we work on all these aspects of life.
A hectic corporate life led to sporadic efforts to lead a healthy life. It was only when I turned 60, that I set up a robust agenda for active ageing in my life. When I reached 64, the year of my retirement, I looked forward to this new phase of life with enthusiasm. By70, I had taken part in several ultra-cycling events, went on treks into the mountains, written and published books, reestablished a firm commitment to a Buddhist spiritual organisation and maintained a steady fitness regime that gave me a sense of wellbeing.
In January 2019, I celebrated my 70th birthday by cycling from Chennai to New Delhi, a distance of about 3000 kilometres to draw attention to the critical needs of old age care. I partnered with HelpAge India for this challenging endeavour. The cyclothon, thanks to HelpAge India, was memorable and satisfying.
The spirit of challenge and adventure in me continued after the cyclothon and encouraged by Mr. Mathew Cherian, the CEO of HelpAge India, I threw myself into writing a book on celebrating active ageing. Through this book, I wish to inculcate, or strengthen, in the reader, a culture of fitness and healthy living together that will enable a joyful and productive life way past retirement into the seventies and eighties.
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