REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DISEASE
As people live longer the number of them who develop one or more than one disease increases but this is not due to ageing. it is due, mostly, to living longer, that is living longer exposed for more years to the environmental and social factors that cause many diseases. some diseases are linked in some way to the ageing process, Parkinson's diseases for example, but many diseases can be prevented or , if they do occur, treated.
Why is disease important?
Obviously the effects of disease may have a direct impact on ability levels. The person who has a heart attack for example loses heart muscle and therefore the maximum possible power of the heart is reduced. However what we also see is that for many people the onset of disease is marked by an acceleration of the actual rate of decline and a widening of the fitness gap
The reason for this is sometimes partly the direct impact of the disease, for example the impact of heart disease on the muscle of the heart. However an even greater impact is often the social consequence of developing a disease. When someone is known to have a disease then many people still believe that rest is best. In the acute phase of a disease rest is of great importance but the onset of a long term condition is an indication to increase activity and that means not just going to the gym or taking formal activity actions such as brisk walking but carrying on with every day life. All too often friends and relatives who are well meaning don’t like to see someone who they know to have a disease “struggling” and therefore they arrange for them to have “help” or “care” namely other people to do things for them such as delivering shopping to the front door whereas the best thing is to help the person regain their confidence and strength to go to the shop themselves. These beliefs and attitudes widen the fitness gap.
The risks of most diseases can be reduced
The 20thCentury epidemic diseases were “non-communicable” to use the jargon, that is diseases that were not infectious became the major causes of death and disability replacing typhoid, cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis and the other diseases that had dominated the 19thCentury were communicable or infectious. These non-communicable diseases such as heart disease or cancer or dementia increase with frequency as every decade passes. For this reason it has been assumed that they were a consequence of ageing but it is now very clear that ageing by itself is not a major cause of disease. These diseases are due to the environment in which we live, both the physical and the social environment and the impact it has on what is called our “lifestyle” including our “workstyle”. For example even digging up the roads now involves mostly sitting with both hands moving on the controls of mechanical diggers. The good news is that these diseases are preventable although we do not yet know how to prevent all diseases. Some diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease or Rheumatoid arthritis, may be linked to the ageing process but the risk of most of the common killing and disabling diseases can be reduced.
Obviously the earlier this starts the better but people of every age should seek to reduce the risk of the common epidemics of our time. Fortunately the measure taken to reduce the risk of disease such as heart disease will also have a beneficial effect on a number of other diseases, for example also reducing the risk of type II diabetes, dementia and stroke. So we need to think of both risk factors and of the individual conditions because there are slight differences depending upon what particular disease is causing you most concern.