Physically Active Women Avert Alzheimer’s Disease

The Movement of 3 Amazing Women

Keep active, and you’ll thrive. The more active you are, even in your older years, the more active you’ll be able to stay for as many years as you’re given. You may have to make a few adjustments to your lifestyle as you age, but if you keep on living, you’ll enjoy living your life, your way, for as long as possible. Here are three amazing women whose ages and abilities might surprise you. They all seem to contradict society’s definition of old.

She caught my attention, not because she looks old, but because she looks old and is climbing the hill with the ease of a much younger woman. Staring out the hotel window on the Island of Capri, there was this beautifully tanned, Italian woman motoring up the hill towards the town square. The hill’s grade from 15-35% and a little over a mile long.  It’s enough to make you not only huff but also puff watching her get to the top.  About two hours later she is walking down the hill with a small bag in her hand.

There she is the second day making it up the hill.  I just had to see where she was going. She made the long stair climb to the town square and stopped near the top at a small grocery store. Just as I approached the doorway she came out with a small sack. We shared a smile as she exited. I have to know about this woman.  How old she is? Why she passes three stores before going into this one?  Where else her walk takes her? I fumble around looking like I’m buying something before I got enough courage to ask the clerk if he knows the woman who just left. “Do you know the signora,” I asked, pointing in the direction she exited.  “Yes, yes I know,” (broken English). “How old is she,” I asked? Not understanding, he looks puzzled. “Her age, her nombre,” Trying to act like I know some Italian? “Oh age, in eighties.  Every day she buy milk, then go to square, then walk home. She don’t need milk, she like walk,” he replied.

Wow, a woman who walks a mile up a hill to buy milk she doesn’t need in 88 degree heat because she likes to walk. She has no idea of her number.

A few years ago I walked by the ski apparel store and noticed a cool sweater that I thought my wife would love. Thinking I would score major points if I brought home a great gift I entered the shop.  An elderly woman greeted me.   She stood ramrod straight and was very pleasant. She showed me around the store and gave an advertisement on each piece. I asked her if she ever skied.  She smiled and said, “Yes, I’m going up to Park City next week.” Wow, I thought, she must be her late 70’s but is in great shape.  I naïvely started asking questions about her activity, “Do you ski all day?” “Why yes,” she said. “Do you ski on steep slopes?” I found myself making an assumption that her age should equal her ability. She then said, “Well actually, I am in a downhill slalom race. People say I shouldn’t still race at my age but I love it and have been doing it for over 60 years.” My jaw dropped, still I wanted to peg her age to her ability. She said, “I get up to 70-80mph when going fast.” “Don’t you worry about getting hurt,” I muttered. “Well I broke a finger in 54 but am more careful now.” I was stunned.

Later I met a mutual friend who knows her. He said she was 82 and was a ski instructor in Sun Valley for over 40 years. She is still one of the fastest racers in the Masters class.  And she had no plans for slowing down.

My mother-in-law is an amazing woman. You might think I’m looking to score points but at nearly 77 years of age her attitude is exceptional about trying new things. She is not bashful about jumping off a boat in Hawaii and swimming a few laps around it. Last summer, we were going to take a nice long bike ride and although she hadn’t been on a bike in over a decade she rode 12 miles with us. She thrives on being in motion and not letting her age determine her activity. It is the little strides in motion that keep her healthy: walking her dog, going for a hike, swimming in the community pool. She also believes that the activities she continues to participate in (Bridge Club, Art Museum Board) keep her engaged and they allow her to stay both mentally and physically active. Her attitude inspires me.

You don’t have to be an incredible athlete to keep in motion; you just have to keep in motion. Women who remain physically active throughout life have sharper memory and thinking skills, and they’re better able to ward off Alzheimer’s disease into old age. Don’t let your age fool you or anyone else into thinking your life is over.  Staying active and taking care of yourself is the best way to live a long and happy life, no matter what your number.

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