At our Auckland physiotherapy clinic, we like to think that we’re experts in keeping you moving. It’s not some snappy marketing slogan. It’s our philosophy and one that guides us as we help our valued clients get back to what they love to do, and feel less pain while they’re doing it. And in helping them stay active, we’re also allowing people to live their life with a purpose, especially those in the middle-aged to older age groups.
That’s the key finding in a new study out of Harvard University. More than 14,000 people aged 50 and older were followed for a number of years. The surveys they participated in ranged from questions about their routines, physical and mental health, and their sense of purpose in life.
The study shows that those in the older demographic who exercise regularly report a feeling of having a greater purpose in life. And, you won’t be surprised to learn, those who say they feel a sense of purpose in their life are also far more likely to stay active. It’s a true win-win situation.
Staying active at any time of life is beneficial. But as we age, it becomes even more so. The Harvard study found that older people especially are vulnerable to “passively giving up on life.” They do so for a number of reasons, mainly loneliness, a feeling of not mattering as much as they once did when they had a career and a family to look after, and physical decline that stops them from doing what they used to enjoy. Apathy is common at this point, and people see no point in getting out of their lounge chair and doing something active.
This is where the study revealed a huge difference in attitudes in people who exercised regularly and those who got little activity, if any at all. The ones who remained active felt as though they still mattered in the world, and had something left to contribute. And as we pointed out, the more active they were, the more these positive feelings were reinforced. In fact, those feelings increased over time.
On the other hand, those who weren’t as active tended to feel as though they had run their race as far as life was concerned. They weren’t motivated to exercise because of this mindset, and so that empty feeling was just compounded.
In 2014, the University College in London found that a sense of meaning and purpose was linked to a longer lifespan. So when the team at Cairnhill Physio says that “to move is to live”, we really mean it!