The Paralympics have just finished and - wow! What impressive and inspirational athletes, both in their performances and in their attitude. These athletes have to deal with great challenges in their lives, whether from a congenital condition or a disability caused by an event. Such determination, such guts, all channelled into becoming elite athletes performing at the highest level!
So what can we learn from these Paralympians? The lesson is that whereas these disabled athletes have made the greatest effort to become the best they can be, when people age - which incidentally is something that everyone will do! - we don’t always put enough effort into counteracting ageing’s detrimental effects, such as weakness and frailty. We see ageing as a kind of disability about which we can do nothing.
These effects, however, though they are symptoms that commonly accompany age, are far from being unalterable. They can be positively affected by your lifestyle choices and by strength and fitness conditioning. Some of the symptoms of ageing may not be avoided, but many of them, even conditions that would seem unconnected to physical conditioning, such as those affecting the brain, are beneficially affected by good training regimes. More obvious beneficiaries are diabetes, and heart conditions, but there is also plenty of evidence that even depression, commonly suffered in age, can be positively affected by exercise.
And if you’re worried that ‘at your age’ you are likely to suffer injury from exercise, take it slowly at first, and then as you build up take confidence from research which shows that strength training has the effect of reducing the incidence of injuries.
So be inspired by the incredible feats displayed by the Paralympic athletes and the application they have shown, and get your body strong and keep it that way. Double amputee Liam Malone (left) said that Paralympic athletes concentrate not on the disability but on making the bits that still work work their best - we can all learn from that. After all, it’s a long life, make the most of it.
NB We loved The Last Leg daily round-up show - well done Channel 4!