Even before the coronavirus crisis, people over 60 were regularly targeted with hurtful prejudices about what they can do, what they should like, and how they should act.
But now, the backlash has grown more disturbing than ever. Some have suggested that younger people get preferential medical treatment, or that “older” people be restricted from the “general population” that needs to keep the economy churning.
Two thoughts come to mind.
First, most of the elderly victims of Covid-19 were in assisted-living facilities, where the virus was able to spread more quickly and more people have pre-existing medical conditions. In the UK, an article in Health Club Management says, “When you remove them from the equation, the death rate from COVID-19 is the same for all age groups over 44.”
Second, no one should tell any segment of the population – based on age, race, gender, or any factor – that they deserve second-class treatment or should have their freedom restricted because of paranoia and fear.
Staying fit is crucial to the wellbeing of all people – particularly people over 50 or so. That’s when we start to lose muscle mass when it starts to get harder to lose weight when we can begin to get frail. It’s when inactivity can lead to immobility and dependence, chronic illness, and early death.
But fitness = freedom, plain and simple. It’s also how we can take this unique point in history to blow ageism to pieces once and for all.
Fight the Prejudice, Celebrate Your Power
When you work out, you’re doing more than improving your physical and mental health.
You’re also fighting that dangerous prejudice.
“Ageism has been shown to cause cardiovascular stress, lowered levels of self-efficacy and decreased productivity,” the World Health Organization wrote in a massive campaign to combat the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination around the world.
The global population over 60 is doubling to more than 20 billion by 2050, WHO says.
People over 60 are often derided as being frail, non-productive, and a burden on society.
But people who think positively about aging enjoy a longer life — 7.5 years, WHO says.
WHO highlights the role fitness plays: “Strength training to maintain muscle mass and good nutrition can both help to preserve cognitive function, delay care dependency, and reverse frailty.”
Who You Calling A Niche?
It’s important to celebrate the strength and vitality that we all deserve later in life. One way to do that is to see the diversity of the millions of people in the “older” demographic.
In the US, there are 100 million people over 50. Imagine referring to such a large group as a “niche.” It would be ridiculous.
You are every race, gender, economic class, family situation, sexual orientation, fitness level, religion, and more. You work. You raise kids. You keep a home. You vote.
You like to run, lift weights, practice yoga, golf, play tennis, hike, travel, garden, dance, and take part in countless kinds of physical activity.
You are sexy. You are buff. You are overweight. You are stressed. You are looking to live your best lives – still and always.
And we are here to help you do it. Join us in the movement to be strong and well, to remain independent, and to enjoy life on your own terms. Exercise is one of the building blocks, along with eating right, sleeping well, and managing stress.
Get fit. Fight ageism. Live long and prosper.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.