What comes to mind when you think of ageing backwards? For some, it’s simply “looking the part” without a wrinkle or strand of white hair. For others, it’s the ability to do tasks with the same efficiency and strength as they had when young. While we can’t turn back time, we can make sure that our age doesn’t prevent us from living life to the fullest.
Looking at Elizabeth Cheang, you’d never guess that this grandmother of three only bit the bullet and joined the gym when she was 52! Twenty years later, she looks healthier and younger than ever, has dance moves that put many to shame, and can care for her family which is of utmost importance to her.
Elizabeth enjoying time with her grandchildren
What does health mean to you?
Health, to me, doesn’t just refer to physical health but mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well. Without health, I feel that one will not be able to enjoy and live life to the fullest.
What is your weekly physical regime?
I try to exercise every day in one form or another. If I am not at the dance studio (usually about three times a week), I will go for 5km brisk walks at East Coast Park or dance to the routines from online apps.
Elizabeth and her dance fitness group
Why is physical health a priority to you?
I am in a space where mobility is very crucial, especially since I am taking care of my grandchildren who are 15, 7 and 5 years of age. Driving and taking them to their enrichment classes, picking them up from school, CCA etc., are all activities that can be tiring when one is not physically fit, especially at my age.
What has improved health enabled you to do that you weren't able to do before?
In my early fifties, I attended reformer pilates classes weekly for about 15 years before my instructor moved (and COVID happened). I also learned to swim when I was 55, which was an achievement for me given my fear of water.
Do you feel younger and healthier now than you did five years ago?
This hasn't crossed my mind at all.
67 or 72 - am I healthier? I think I have always made an effort to stay healthy - going for my annual medical checkups, doing regular exercises, and eating healthy although of course with exceptions (I love sweets).
Do I feel younger? Sometimes… when playing with my grandchildren. Other times not… when old age aches and pains hit me.
What advice would you give others who are looking to start integrating fitness into their lifestyle but feel "too old" to start?
First, remember that you are never too old to try something new. Whether it’s integrating into a more physically active lifestyle or learning a new skill. I was 65 when I went for exotic dance and ballet classes but still enjoyed them tremendously. The classes not only made me feel young but happy too. I am 72 but still go for hip-hop dance classes; I may not be as flexible as my young dance mates but so what? I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the young people in classes often support and encourage you along the way.
Secondly, don’t wait. Don't put off what you can do today, for if you have never tried, you will never know whether you can do it or not. If you leave it till too late, you may regret not doing something that may have benefitted you in the long term. Being physically healthy will also make you mentally healthy.
Today, there are 1001 different exercise regimes for every age group. You’re bound to find something up your alley. In fact, if you’re above the age of 65 with an ActiveSG membership, you can enjoy free gym and swimming pool access at ActiveSG Sport Centres.
So, there you have it! Inspired? We sure are!
(Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Cheang)