Diane Pridham Physiotherapy

This piece was written by Mabs MacDougall, a "Wellness" advocate who, at 87 leads an active lifestyle, despite some health issues. She exercises every day and has been attending Clinical Pilates for five years.

Quality of Life is my mantra!

Whenever I'm making decisions this mantra becomes my guideline. 

I started taking full responsibility for all aspects of my life - health, finances & emotions in  my mid forties. This was a good time as I had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure and was totally taken by surprise with this diagnosis. Apart from medication I thought surely there was something I could do to help myself. This started me on the journey to discover alternative health approaches.

I quickly identified the importance of diet and regular exercise as being integral to well-being. Sport had always been a part of my life, as I played competitive hockey through to University grade and then was a State level golfer. With a change in life circumstances, I was now less involved with sport, so I enrolled in a gym where I began regular exercise and swimming. I also began paying more attention to my diet and read up about the importance of micro-nutrients due to mineral deficiencies in our local soils.

That often quoted saying "Healthy Body, Healthy MInd" was my new benchmark. I can assure you that it works! After exercising I am more aware of my surroundings - the blue of the sky, the green of the trees and the colours in the flowers. I feel very connected with nature and my environment.

In my mid 70's I joined a walking club. Each Sunday morning we'd gather and walk at least 8 km. It was a wonderful way to spend time outside whilst exercising and socialising. Unfortunately I then developed anaemia and then polymyalgia rheumatica resulting in discontinuing these long walks. I missed the social interaction which I appreciate contributes to my well-being.

As my energy gradually  improved I started swimming - not surfing as I'd done in my teens, but now in the outdoor pool at HBF Stadium. I love being outdoors and looking up at the vast blue sky. The only time I swim indoors is when it's too cold and raining. I enjoy setting myself goals so when I'm in the pool I have aimed to improve my distance, gradually increasing until I reached my goal of 1 km. I'm pleased to say I've achieved it! Now my challenge is to maintain it, as I've had some time out of the water due to removal of skin cancers.

Diet has always been an interest of mine in my pursuance of a good quality of life. As well as attention to mineral deficiencies, I also followed the Pritikin diet for some time. More recently I've been an advocate of the 5/2 way of eating and its value. I am no goodie two shoes! I do lapse at times but I am sharply aware of the change in myself as I become more sluggish, somewhat irritable and disinterested in my surroundings.

Pilates has contributed enormously to my quality of life and has often provided me with the motivation to "get going". Sometimes when I get up in the morning I feel stiff. I wish there was a key I could use to wind me up! However there's a set of floor exercises, stretching ones, that I do, and thankfully the good feeling of being able to move more easily returns. At Pilates sessions I learn fresh exercises to give me relief from the various aches and pains we all experience. I also incorporate some of these, as needed, in my half-hour daily sessions on the mat. The Pilates reformer machine at the Studio offers alternate exercises for different physical conditions. Sometimes as I leave my appointment I remark to the Physio "A new woman is leaving now!"

I feel sure that awareness of my health and taking full responsibility for maintaining it has encouraged me - in the immediate past, to attend educational courses at U3A, Trinity School for Seniors and TAFE. Also, I've been motivated to volunteer with different groups. These experiences have enhanced my life; learning, giving and interacting.

There is so much we can do in our senior years to establish and maintain a good quality of life - so why not "Get out there and give it a Go?"

Mabs (June 2017)