Chris Nand using the exercise apparatus on the beach in Fuengirola. / SUR

The benefits of staying active in later life

Regular exercise and a strict diet has kept 82-year-old Chris Nand active and healthy

Tony Bryant

A healthy lifestyle matters at all ages, but probably more so as we get older, yet there are many people who feel that they have reached an age when exercise is too strenuous, and also that it is too late to worry about dietary problems. However, those who are active into older age see a reduced risk of developing heart disease, obesity or diabetes. Stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet and even light activity, such as daily walking, can improve the quality of life of all people, especially older people.

Making healthy lifestyle changes as early as possible offers the biggest health benefits, but taking action later in life still has a positive impact.

Taking care of one’s body and keeping in shape has been a lifelong objective of Chris Nand, an 82-year-old expat who has lived in Fuengirola for 40 years.

Born in Fiji in 1939, Chris believes that it is very important to take steps to tackle obesity with the intervention of a healthy diet and appropriate exercise.

Chris’ father and brother both died of diabetes, and several members of his family suffer with the disease, which is why he has decided to try to set an example to those in danger from obesity and diabetes.

The sprightly senior citizen, who lived in the UK for 20 years prior to coming to the Costa del Sol, began working as a physical training teacher in Fuji during the 1950s. On arriving in the UK, he opened a gymnasium in Birkenhead and has since dedicated his time to keeping himself fit, while also promoting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to family and close friends.

“I began boxing in my youth, so I have always been very active. I have always paid special attention to my diet. I stick to a strict Mediterranean diet and avoid junk food in order to keep myself fit and healthy. The only time I visit a fast-food restaurant is when I am in England visiting my grandchildren,” Chris explains to SUR in English.

Staying healthy and active

Chris has never smoked, and he rarely eats meat, instead adhering to a diet of fish, seafood, lentils and salad. He also walks twelve kilometres every other day and makes use of the exercise apparatus installed on the beach in Fuengirola, which he claims has helped him to stay active and fighting fit at a time when many people of his age become incapacitated.

“I am a very active person and work out at home, as well as taking regular outdoor exercise. It is so important to look after your body in order to avoid illness. I have a history of diabetes in my family and I have always tried to educate them about the problems of obesity, but, unfortunately, they have not taken any notice,” he says.

Although Chris believes that governments around the world should do more to educate people about obesity, especially children, he feels that many people should take more notice of what they eat, and pay special attention to regular exercise routines.

Chris has two grandchildren who are at an age when they do not fully understand the importance of a healthy diet, but he feels that the fact that their grandfather is trying to set an example will give them the desire to follow in his example and look after their health in order to live a long and vigorous life.

“It is very difficult to tell my grandchildren what food to eat and explain the importance of exercise, but, fortunately, my daughter exercises a lot, so maybe they will follow our example,” he says.

An inspiration to others

Chris is well-integrated into the Spanish way of life and enjoys walking and being outdoors in the sunshine, which is one of the reasons he decided to come to live on the coast. Declaring that he is “fit for his age and not ready to let old age take over,”, he claims that he will continue promoting the importance of healthy living in the hope that others will follow suit.

“I might drop dead tomorrow, but I enjoy exercising, and I try to inspire other people to do the same. We live in very difficult times and our lifestyles tend to dictate what we eat, but it is so important to avoid junk food and exercise on a regular basis.

“We have excellent exercise apparatus on our beaches, but people rarely use it. I would like to inspire people to take up exercising on the beach. It’s a fun way to keep fit and be out in the fresh air. It is so important to keep active and healthy as we get older,” the energetic 82-year-old declares.