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Forever young

India’s 60+ population has doubled since 1980, but older adults are not showing any signs of ageing. Rhythma Kaul reports. Some 60+ people

health and fitness Updated: Apr 07, 2012 01:49 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times

SK Mehta, a resident of central Delhi's Bengali market and a practicing advocate, looks forward to his game of tennis every weekend and on holidays. Such is his love for the game that he is the first to arrive at the court and last one to leave. He is 72. Those who play with him at the Chelmsford Club say his enthusiasm and fitness even at this age is capable of giving a 40-something a stiff competition. "On weekdays it gets a bit difficult to find time as I have to be in Courts by 10 am, but on weekends and holidays my mornings are dedicated to my game," he said.

At 75, Commander L Kumar, is one of the most senior members of the Noida sports stadium and Noida Golf Club. He plays squash, golf and even enjoys a game of bridge. "I squash and have been playing it for the past 55 years. I also play golf and bridge to keep my mind active. I also practice light breathing exercising in the morning. I have no medical condition ... In fact, I still haven't greyed; I don't use hair colour," Kumar proudly informs.

India’s above-60 population has doubled since 1980 — by 2050 every fifth Indian will be above 60 years — but older adults are not showing any signs of ageing. On a weekend, mostly Saturdays, Kamaljit Singh Nagi, 60, a businessman, cycles up to 50 km around Delhi. Nagi and his neighbour, start from their residence in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj around 5.30am, cover the nearby ridge area, reach Connaught Place where they enjoy a cup of tea at the Janpath McDonald's, before moving towards Rajpath.

"Since traffic jams are a huge problem, we start early and go for empty roads such as Rajpath, Shanti Path etc. I have been cycling for seven years and it keeps me fit through the day," he said. Despite undegoing an angioplasty three years ago, Nagi feels fit, and says he can do more. "The stent in my artery is hardly a deterrent. After a cycling session, I feel I can still do a few more rounds. I play badminton and squash occasionally."

At 81, Dr Sneh Bhargava, former director of AIIMS, begins her day with about 30 minutes of strength exercises and light weight training. "I will turn 82 in June, but don’t feel the age. I even used to play golf till a while ago. You have to work towards staying healthy," she said.

Some discipline is needed. "I eat and drink in moderation. I have reduced my non-veg intake and also my drinks to four pegs in a week," said Kumar. "I have always followed a healthy lifestyle. I never smoked or drank alcohol, and would sleep early wake up early, says Mehta.

Doctors also say health in old age is a reflection of the processes and vents of childhood, youth and middle age. "Smoking, activity levels and obesity are three established risk factors that determine how healthy and long you live. Environmental factors such as pollution, nutrition, socio-economic status and genes have a smaller role," said Dr AB Dey, professor of medicine at AIIMS and head of department of geriatric medicine in the hospital.

First Published: Apr 06, 2012 21:28 IST