You can’t argue with the American Heart Association when it says leisure-time activities are good for you. Especially when it plunks down a longitudinal study that proves it.

In a new study that was just published in the AHA journal, Circulation, more than 4,200 participants (average age 49) reported the duration and frequency of their leisure-time physical activities such as brisk walking, vigorous gardening, cycling, sports, housework and home maintenance.

“It’s not just vigorous exercise and sports that are important,” said Mark Hamer, Ph.D., study lead author and associate professor of epidemiology and public health at University College in London, U.K.

“These leisure-time activities represent moderate intensity exercise that is important to health. It is especially important for older people to be physically active because it contributes to successful aging.”

Overall, 49.1 percent of the participants met the standard physical activity recommendations for cardiovascular health (2.5 hours per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity). The rate reached 83 percent in subsequent phases of the study as the participants entered retirement.

“We have shown that retirement seems to have a beneficial effect on physical activity levels,”  Hamer said.

The benefits of exercise cannot be denied. It can keep you vital in all areas of your life.

So what activities can you engage in this week to get that body moving? Gardening? Cycling? Something else? Whatever you do, get that blood pumping.

It’s good for you. And your heart too.



Managing the Older Worker

September 14, 2010

In the last century we’ve increased our longevity by thirty years. In 1900 folks lived an average of 47 years; by the year 2000 that number had jumped to 78. Although I am far from retirement age, I follow the conversation of the changing retirement laws in Germany because it fascinates me that people are forced to stop working when they hit that ‘magic number’. While they want to raise it from 65 to age 67, there have been protests in France because they just jacked retirement up to age 60.

Imagine the thought! Why, as the population ages and fewer people are born to replace them, are people being coerced to leave the workplace?

That’s where Peter Cappelli and Bill Novelli, co-authors of the newly released book, Managing the Older Worker: How to Prepare for the New Organizational Order, come in. They make a strong case for retaining talent and conducting smart knowledge management. After all, older folks are living longer, have more experience and, according to the authors, are motivated by different interests than their eager, younger colleagues. Dangling a promotion in front of their noses isn’t nearly as effective as giving them an interesting assignment that keeps them as a team player.

While I was slightly disappointed that the book didn’t delve into how younger managers can actually go about managing older workers, they did make a strong case for why older workers are so valuable. In a nutshell, they are:

  • more knowledgeable (no mystery there);
  • more flexible (most of them have their child-rearing days behind them; however flexibility for elder care remains an issue as their own parents’ failing health impacts their ability to maintain a regular schedule);
  • more loyal and conscientious;
  • just as costly (or not, depending on how the company views overall employee benefits).

In other words, older workers’ value in terms of knowledge and willingness to learn new things (thereby debunking the myth that people over forty somehow can’t or won’t ‘get with the program’) far outweighs any insurance cost, etc. Also notable is the fact that older workers are much less likeyl to have costly dependents so while their insurance premiums may be slightly higher, they are actually less costly in the overall scheme of things.

I thought of this today as I stood in line, waiting with one hundred other warm bodies, to buy my daughter’s last-minute school supplies. In high school, they like to tell the kids what they will need for class on the first day of school, leaving no time to prepare over a series of weeks. That means good ole Mom gets to push her way through the crowds for those ‘extra’ items she couldn’t foresee.

But back to my point: there were two lines. One had an elderly gentleman and a middle-aged woman working the cash register. The other had a younger team. One called out the price; the other typed it into the register. I couldn’t help but notice my line with the older team wasn’t moving as fast. Despite my ownership of the power of slow principles, I felt myself getting hot under the collar (literally ~all those people in such a small space!). When it was finally my turn, the woman advised me that I was buying the wrong pens. She kindly went back into the throng to get the right ones for me. She may have been slower, but imagine the amount of time she actually saved me in getting me the right pens the first time! That’s the very conscientiousness and customer care Cappelli and Novelli praised in the older worker. Amazing!

I smiled as the power of slow found its way back into my heart…and the right school supplies into my bag. Thanks to Managing the Older Worker, I will continue to view more experienced employees as the harbingers of slow because, as we all know by now, it’s faster anyway!

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Simplify Your Finances

January 8, 2010

This blog is about mindful living. When we slow down to see the Big Picture, we realize what’s truly important to us.

Our financial future is one of those things. Yet many of us do not take the time to think about it until it is often too late. Here’s where the Power of Slow can really come in handy.

Bryan Link is the CEO of SimpliFi, a free savings calculation tool that spells out exactly the amount you need to save each month. He suggests the top five things people can do now to simplify their finances this year. The Power of Slow talks a lot about slaying the inner pig dog (inneren Schweinehund) that says now is never a good idea. Procrastination is the best way to kill your financial dreams. (See “The High Cost of Procrastination“)

Bryan writes:

1)      Develop a financial plan that maps out your financial goals.  If you put together a written financial plan, you increase your chances of achieving your goals by 250%, so this is the best place to start. 

Editor’s Note: You can’t get there if you don’t know where you are going. Build a plan, even a small one, to reach some of your financial goals this year. One of our goals is to rebuild our entire wrap-around porch. Surprising sources of income have shown themselves as a result of our intention. Sometimes you have to build it so they will come!

2)  Develop a monthly spending plan that can help you achieve your financial goals–both short and long-term.  Knowing how your going to spend your money before you do it is the key to financial success.

Editor’s Note: This is a hard one for many people. Tracking hidden spending such as that quick coffee or an impulse purchase confronts us with our habits. Be rigorous in your tracking for a month to see where the money flows. It can be fun if you treat it like a treasure hunt. You’ll find all kinds of income that can be redirected if you know where it’s going in the first place.

Once you’ve completed #1 and #2, then:

3)   Set up automatic withdrawals for your savings and investment accounts, and have them hit at the first of the month (or whenever you get paid).  This “pay yourself first” approach is really the only effective way to enforce savings discipline.  If you wait until the end of the month to save, you’ll find there’s never any money left.

Editor’s Note: This one is key. It is amazing how contractable your bank account can be when you have an automatic draft going to your savings account. Consider it your own personal payment to yourself. You aren’t spending it. You’re paying YOU!

4)   Use cash for discretionary purchases like drinks/snacks, entertainment, and low-cost dining.  Studies have shown that we have a harder time parting with cash, so if you force yourself to use cash for these purchases, you will spend less.  EVEN BETTER:  use the envelope method in conjunction with your monthly spending plan for these purchases.  It works like this:  budget a specific weekly amount of cash for these purchases, then each week, withdraw that amount, put it in an envelope, and only use what’s in the envelope for that week.  When the cash is gone, no more spending until the next installment.

Editor’s note: I do this in particular with the children’s items. It helps me have an overview of where the cash is going. A field trip here, a pair of soccer shoes there…

5)   Increase your giving to a charity that helps those less fortunate–and find a way to volunteer there as well.  Both of these actions will increase your happiness and make you feel more grateful for the blessings you have in your life.

Editor’s note:  It not only gives you a great feeling throughout the year, come tax time you’ll get that warm feeling all over again!