Published in El Pais, 8 December 2018.
Did you know that 6.4% of the population in Bolivia and 19% in the Netherlands are people over 65? Around the world these figures are increasing rapidly and countries and their policies have to adjust to this great opportunity to live more and with quality of life. In the Netherlands, I had the great opportunity to share a seven kilometer walk that last about three hours together with a group of people between 76 and 87 years old. The group meets every Monday at 2:00 p.m. to start their walk, first through the city until going out into a forest (Horst) where they can have a quiet walk. The group goes at their own speed and has two 3-minute breaks on the way out and a great break in a cafeteria in the forest before returning. The group exists nine years and walks every Monday with those who arrive, whatever the weather, rain, wind, snow. Those who are sick, those who for some reason can not walk, or prefer to go by bicycle, join to have a coffee or tea in the usual place because the break is always at the same time and place. For me it has been a very pleasant experience to share their walk, talks and see that people can maintain their health by doing regular exercises in addition to maintaining an active social life.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines healthy aging “as the process of development and maintenance of functional capacity that allows well-being in old age” to make their own decisions, be mobile, build and maintain their relationships and contribute to society (working, helping the family or their community). To achieve a good life, WHO recommends that adults perform 150 minutes of sports activity per week (between intense and moderate) or 75 minutes of intense activity (swimming, jogging, etc.). This can be achieved if the environment is favorable to: perform physical and social activities, reduce risks to your health (inadequate infrastructure, violence, poor diet, no access to sports activities), improve access to good health and social care .
In Bolivia, we have to ask ourselves what we can do to implement different policies, actions and infrastructure to give adults the opportunity to stay active, with quality of life for more time in their lives, in terms of nutrition, health, traffic rules, sports and social activities among others. Having more time with adults in good health favors the growth of a country’s economy.