Michelle Reeve explores what enables our fellow mortals to live to, or past, the oh-so – ripe age of 100.
What is the holy grail of youth, the elixir of life?
What I do find super-impressive is the quality of life these vintage rock stars enjoy. At 100 they are still tending their work, chopping wood, swimming laps, raising great Great GREAT grandchildren and remain not only a vital part of their community but are central to its existence. (By the way, I’m not suggesting the women pictured here are centenarians, but they’re going the right way about getting there.)
On the surface, it appears that what this group is doing is not altogether that special. Some drink wine daily, some smoke, diets vary. But there are a number of factors that bond them together like superglue: they are described as being curious, social and community-centric. They are engaged. When teasing apart the reasons behind this longevity it is interesting to discover that structured exercise hardly features in their lifestyle.
Movement, however, is paramount! Life is free from modern conveniences encouraging gentle incidental movement throughout each and every day. They are blessed with work. They garden, walk to markets, take the stairs, stroll after dinner, tend to their life and their chosen vocations. They don’t retire.
It’s not unlike the recent interest in the svelte figures of French women. They drink champagne, enjoy a salacious relationship with butter – and let’s not forget the chocolate croissants! Sure, moderation is the key, but they also walk everywhere or ride their ever so stylish bicyclette. Incidental exercise wins again.
Some of the conventional Western approaches to exercise have become a little catatonic. Burn kilojoules, lose weight. The focus is narrow: 40 minutes, three times a week. Modern lifestyles have made ‘exercise therapy’ a very specific pursuit. Scheduled time in sweat-appropriate threads focused on intense, targeted physical activity; all while we monitor kiljoules burned per second, heart rate elevations, steps taken, kilometres travelled and time invested.
This approach is not only single-minded, it’s missing the point. Movement is inextricably linked to health. Maintaining a healthy body weight is only a small part of the picture.
If you want longevity, then staying active throughout the day will ensure you maintain mobility, cognition, immune function, circulation, mental clarity and continuously purify and detoxify the body.
Every time you move you are compressing and oxygenating organs, stretching muscles, maintaining ligament mobility, releasing hormones, boosting circulation, stimulating brain function, enhancing digestion and protecting yourself from Western lifestyle diseases.
Your circulatory system is governed by a series of valves and pumps; even if you lie in a lifeless daze in front of the TV your body is still equipped to ensure blood is continuously circulated. Unfortunately, the lymphatic system does not boast the same equipment. Lymph relies on joint and muscle activation to pump this intercellular fluid back to the circulatory system. You need to move for it to work effectively. What’s so important about the lymphatic system I hear you ask? Heaps!
Apart from driving our immune system, transporting hormones and vitamins and moving digested fats, it is our channel for detoxification – purging impurities and toxins from the body.
I’m not suggesting you burn your gym membership (was that a sigh of disappointment?), but what I am advocating isn’t anything we have not heard before. Take the steps instead of the lift, park a few blocks from work and enjoy the walk, grow your vegetables or at least some herbs. Get in touch with your body through embracing the daily rituals of life.
The gift will be independent and fruitful living into beautifully ripened years. When health and wellbeing become the focus, the aesthetic benefits will always follow. This is the true essence of spa wellness and evidenced in the lifestyles of those fabulous centenarians. See you at 100!
Michelle Reeve is the founder and managing director of spa wellness brand Waterlily Australasia. She has built the brand into a range encompassing more than 150 professional skin, body and spa products. Michelle is an expert in a range of natural medicine modalities, however it is her extensive experience in aromatherapy that inspires and drives her passion to continue to deliver a true active ‘aromaceutical’ spa wellness solution for spas around Australia. waterlilyskinbodyspa.com.au