Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan, pictured here, is 71 years old and is, believe it or not, competing at the 2012 London Olympics in the individual dressage for Japan's equestrian team. According to an article recently published by the Huffington Post, Hoketsu isn’t just the oldest athlete to compete at London 2012; he's the oldest one to do so in the last 92 years.
As we have come to understand, staying active at a later age in life is not just important; it is imperative. And physical activity isn’t just good for aging individuals; it’s good for people of all ages. Simple activities, such as exercising to improve strength or balance, can prevent a whole host of diseases, such as cancer and heart disease as well as strokes and type 2 diabetes. Exercise even has the ability to reduce the possibility for depression, no matter the age.
The Huffington Post says that “given his age, Hoketsu's sprightliness may seem, well, Olympian, yet he remains modest.” Hoketsu remarked that “People say I’m a miracle, but I’m just an ordinary old
man.” And when asked how he stays in shape for the Olympics he says that the “secret is to have a good life, enjoy yourself and do the things that make you happy.”
To do the same, here are a few great exercises that promote strength and balance, courtesy of HealthFinder.gov, a website helping to share the message of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.
- Try using exercise bands or lifting hand weights. You can also use cans of food as weights.
- Breathe out as you lift something, and breathe in as you relax. Holding your breath can cause changes in your blood pressure.
Do balance activities 3 or more days a week.
- Practice standing on one foot.
- Stand up from a sitting position.
- Learn tai chi (“ty chee”), a Chinese mind-body exercise that involves moving the body slowly and gently.
- Sign up for a yoga class, or try a yoga video that you can do at home.
Before starting any sort of exercise program, however, don’t forget to talk to your doctor and especially so if you have a health problem like heart disease, diabetes or obesity. And to learn more about other activities that may be possible, no matter your age or physical condition, be sure to talk to your Freedom Home Care caregiver, who would be happy to help.