Retirement is not a phase of decline leading to inevitable oblivion. It is a time to set fresh goals and aspirations and for working towards achieving them. Retirement is a gift of time. Make the most of it by writing your own active ageing agenda as soon as possible and surely as you cross 55.
Saraswathi, a family friend, and now an ardent fitness fan, is a homemaker by choice.
“I never really thought about fitness seriously as my weight was always under control. I was rather sporadic in working out in our home gym and I used the treadmill about twice a week. I also went for occasional walks.” she said.
In 2011 she was confronted with a host of health issues; frequent stomach upsets, headaches, a hysterectomy and numbing back pain. In 2014 she received a further jolt, as she developed hypertension and was advised lifelong medication. Her concern and dismay didn’t spur her on to immediate action. It was only in 2016 that she made a firm commitment to change her lifestyle when she came across the Dance to Fitness Studio, in Sector 41, Noida.
“I joined the morning Batch in April 2016 and have been at it every weekday except when I am travelling. The sessions are well paced with aerobics, pilates, weights and yoga and a balanced diet that is tailormade for each of us,” she said. She feels sisterhood and camaraderie with others in her batch and finds the instructor, Ms. Sonal Singh, young, committed and considerate. Saraswathi said, “It is therapeutic. Health issues were weighing me down, now there was a hope that they could be handled. Talking to fellow batch mates, I could see how medical issues like thyroid, obesity, knees and back issues, menopausal problems etc have been systematically cured.”
Saraswathi’s weekly exercise schedule has a high component of fast paced aerobic activity to the rhythmic beat of Western pop and Bollywood songs. Also included are planks and stretches and various floor exercises very similar to Yoga, which helps develop the core. She said, “Stretches make our body pliable and relaxes muscles. We use dumbbells which strengthen our muscles especially biceps and triceps. ”
These weekly workouts have started to show benefits. She said, “My back is a lot better and my hypertension is a thing of the past. My skin tone too has improved with the sweating These sessions have become an indispensable part of my life now and I feel guilty if I miss a session. Quality of life has improved and I am more confident about myself and my health.”
Often it is unassuming neighbours who live extraordinary lives. Ramasamy Jeyaram from Annanagar, Chennai, took to marathon running at the age of 65 at the urging of his US based daughter. A welcome departure from well-meaning but unfortunate advice to retired parents to relax and take it easy. Jeyaram burst out of his shell as he took to marathon running. Like many others he found his inspiration and mojo at adventure clubs such as The Chennai Cool Runners, Chennai Dream Runners, Madras Randonneurs and the Chennai Trekking Club.
He has successfully run the full marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival and the Marine Corps Marathon at Washington besides many other full and half marathons across the country. At last count he had completed nine half marathons, six full marathons, two triathlons, Brevet cycling events for all categories from 200 kms to 1000 kms twice over, two half-ironman and a full-ironman event conducted by the Chennai Trekking Club and most recently the International half-ironman event at Goa on 20th October 2019. He earned the title of Double Super Randonneur in 2017. He said, “I participate to achieve what others cannot do.”
At 72, he is the epitome of the popular saying that it is the process and not the end result that is important. After a break of two years from competitive events, he enrolled for the half-ironman event in Goa in 2019. He had to start from zero he said but adopted a gruelling weekly schedule of 5 kms of swimming, 100 kms of cycling and 45 kms of jogging to prepare for the event. It was wonderful to see a picture of him cross the finish line at Goa with his arms raised in triumph. He missed the qualifying mark by a mere minute or so as he lost time at the swimming stage and had a touch of cramps while cycling. He was a winner, nevertheless. Back in Chennai, he poured over the timing chart determined to iron out flaws and be successful at the event next year. Challenging yourself is the mark of a true winner.
Diagnosed with epilepsy at 64, Bylahalli Janardhan, refused to live a life he considered imprisonment. At 86 he has completed 16 full marathons and 62 half marathons as of January 2019 and has since zoomed way beyond that. Defying epilepsy, he resolved to travel only by cycle from the age of 64, no OLA/Uber or auto rickshaws as he said, and has now covered over 4,00,000 kms on a cycle.
His amazing exploits have left organisers aghast. He participated in a 12 -hour endurance event and completed a distance of 63 kms in spite of being stopped at regular intervals for a medical examination by the organisers!! Organisers of a trek to Mount Kailash insisted he travel by a pony as he was considered too old to trek a distance of 52 kms and traverse the Drolma Pass at an altitude of 5630 kms. He refused and trekked on foot all the way. In Mumbai, he ran up a flight of 1250 steps in a 54 story building in 8 minutes 22 seconds, at a competitive event.
Janardhan lives alone, cooks his own food–dhal with rice or bajra rotis with vegetables. He doesn’t take any medication and said, “I don’t pop any pills or take pain killers. I have become disease proof because of constant exposure to sun and rain.” He leads a simple life and donates generously for social causes from unused pensions.
Bylahalli Janardhan lives in JP Nagar, Bangalore, and is active on Facebook.
None of us want to be a burden on our family as we age. The onus is on us to have the resolve to set up an active ageing agenda and follow through with it. We will then open the way to lead a vibrant and purposeful life till the very last days of our lives.
Briefly this is how I got started writing a book on Celebrating Active Ageing. I will record the journey and the highlights of the book with similar video clips and blog posts.
Shortly after I completed the cyclothon from Chennai to New Delhi,in partnership with HelpAge India, earlier this year,a new adventure was born. Mr.Mathew Cherian, the CEO of HelpAge India,and his senior leadership team,suggested that I write a book on active ageing.I jumped into it with the same gusto with which I cycled from Chennai to New Delhi. I was very happy to be partnering once again with HelpAge on a project close to my heart.
The manuscript is ready and is with the publishers. In all probability the book will be ready for publishing by the 26th January 2020. It was been a wonderful experience and I met many wonderful and inspirational people and learned a lot from the research work for the book.