We asked reader Valerie Martin to share why active ageing is SO important.

I was inspired some years ago by seeing a participant in the World Veterans Games held in Auckland.She was from the UK, 94 years old and competing in the 100 metres.

She won and received her medal but it was not the fact that she was the only entrant in her age group that interested me.

The person interviewing her  asked her “How do you keep so agile at your age?”

She promptly replied by jumping in the air and landing in full splits and replying to the interviewer, “I have been doing it all my life”

Being a long retired physiotherapist, I started thinking that she had said something really important there.  I am fortunate enough in my early eighties to be fit and agile but I certainly could not do splits.  I could when I was six years old.

I then questioned my 17 year old granddaughter who represented  New Zealand as a junior gymnast.  “Can you still do splits, Sophie?”  ” Just a minute Gran, I’ll try”.

Well of course she couldn’t.

This led me to think further afield.  Even though we can exercise and eat a good diet and maintain a good healthy life, things change as we get older.  They creep up on us because slowly we are doing less.

Thinking about the lovely 94 yr old who did the splits made me wonder if not just joints but other vital parts could be improved as we get older.  Not many exercise their lungs.  We don’t run so we don’t puff and of course the brain  is generally given a holiday as well.

Since that time I decided that golf twice a week is not enough so I have a daily routine.

I am lucky to have the opportunity to give my brain all the ‘exercise’ it needs as with my husband I run the NZ branch of HomeLink, an International Home Exchanging Company.  Both in our 80’s we hide behind the anonymity of a computer screen and nobody know how old we are.

I’m a keen supporter of Pilates which has been great for avoiding surgery for a serious back condition I have had for many years.

I believe in a daily routine of putting your joints through a full range of movements and your lungs through full expansion.  You don’t need to attend a gym, ask your physio for an exercise routine appropriate for you.

The important thing is that you have to exercise daily.

Fifteen minutes is all it takes.  Every now and then is not enough for joints, lungs and brain to keep in tip top condition.

The well worn phrase “If you don’t use it you lose it”  is very true.


Valerie Martin, Orewa Beach, Auckland

Do you have a favourite exercise routine you would like to share below?