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An 82-year-old who loves scuba diving, skiing, and kayaking shares 3 tips for staying fit regardless of age

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Louise Wholey Scuba diving.
82-year-old Louise Wholey scuba diving.
  • 82-year-old Louise Wholey does a range of sports, including kayaking, scuba diving, and skiing.
  • She shared three tips for getting and staying fit, no matter how old you are.
  • These include getting out of the city and doing seasonal activities.

When you think of an 82-year-old, you probably don't think of someone who cross-country skis, scuba dives, cycles, paddleboards, and kayaks. But that's Louise Wholey.

Before she sat down for an interview with Business Insider, Wholey had already been up for hours, removing litter and debris from a lake near her house — all before 8:30 a.m.

Wholey, who is based in California, has always been active. She started scuba diving in the early sixties at university and did ultramarathons with her husband. She's also climbed all 248 peaks on the Sierra Peaks Section Mountaineering Society's list.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of octogenarians in the world is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050.

But getting old doesn't mean doing less or being less healthy, as Wholey shows. The way someone ages is mostly down to genes and environment, but it can also be impacted by lifestyle factors like a healthy diet, exercising, and taking care of mental health, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Wholey acknowledged that she is unusual in being so active for her age. She said being active is "automatic" for her — she doesn't have a problem motivating herself to get out there and exercise because she finds it fun.

"I feel sorry for people who cannot have these experiences," she said. "For those people who have never seen a snowy mountain, for example."

If you're one of these people, but would like to be as active as Wholey is at 82, she shared three tips with BI.

Exercise seasonally

Because Wholey does mostly outdoor sports, many of her activities are decided by season — skiing in the winter, and kayaking and paddle boarding in the summer.

But Wholey said that between the ski and kayaking seasons, she sometimes goes to the gym to do "squats and deadlifts and pull-ups and all those things that can help your body build strength."

Doing a variety of physical activities is great for fitness, especially in older age. The National Institute of Aging recommends people do endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises, because each type of movement has different benefits, such as improving your endurance and preventing falls. Strength training is especially helpful for staying mobile as you age because it helps prevent sarcopenia, where you lose muscle mass, leading to a higher likelihood of falls.

Get out of the city as much as you can

"I recommend going to the ocean, going to lakes, going to the mountains. Find someone with a car, and just get out of the city," Wholey said. "It doesn't have to be often. If you went six times a year, it'd be so refreshing and so enriching."

Doing physical activity is great for health in general, but "green exercise," or outdoor sports, has been linked to better mental well-being and lower stress levels, according to a 2013 review of studies.

If you can't get out of the city, go to fitness classes

While Wholey lives near a lake and can cross-country ski near her home, she acknowledged that this isn't necessarily possible for everyone, especially people who live in cities.

So, she recommended people do fitness classes, such as yoga or tai chi, which she says are "good for the spirit" and can be a "nice social experience, too."

Exercising with others is indeed good for you. One 2021 study suggested that people who did group exercise had better lower limb strength, memory, and cognitive function than people who exercised alone.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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