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‘Do what you can, when you can, for as long as you can’

Written by Fiona

October 16 2018

Douglas MacNaughton, known to many as Duggie Mac, believes that we should do what we can, when we can, for as long as we can and with people of all ages to stay fit and healthy over 50. I like his sentiments.

Duggie, 64, is a retired engineer living in Glasgow. He is married with two children aged 30 and 32. He is a popular and active member of Glasgow Triathlon Club and also one of the club’s coaches.

He reckons he has enjoyed a “pretty healthy” life, apart from two serious health conditions that needed treatment.

Duggie says: “In 1998 I had thyroid cancer and in 2012 I had to have a heart valve replaced with a bovine tissue valve. I have also had time off work due to work-related stress and depression.

“However, I consider myself very fortunate because although I’ve had a couple of serious health scares, requiring significant treatment and recovery, they have had little impact on my health or my ability to do the physical activities that I most enjoy.

“As an example, I have friends who have relatively minor ailments, such as knee and hip problems, that are much more debilitating and restrict their activities compared to the conditions I’ve had.”

Keen skier Duggie, far right.

Open water swimmer.

An active dabbler

Duggie calls himself a “dabbler” of physical activities. He says: “You name it and I’ve probably had a go at it. I did a bit of rowing when I was at school and for about a year in my mid-20s. I returned to this as an activity when my kids were small, too.

“I commuted to work by bike for quite a few years and I enjoyed skiing and hill walking. But I found that as the years went by my active life dropped off because of work pressures and bringing up a family.

“I ended up in my late 40s overweight with high blood pressure and I knew I needed to do something about this.”

Duggie joined a gym near his work with the aim of getting fitter and losing weight. He also became a member of Glasgow Triathlon Club.

Duggie all set for an open water swim event.

Duggie’s 50s and 60s

Duggie entered his 50s feeling less pressured – and with more time on his hands. He was made redundant but because of his pension and the opportunity to work as a consultant, some of the previous stresses of work life. His kids were also growing up. This meant he had more time for being active.

These days he swims, bikes and runs. He also enjoys power boating, skiing, kayaking, hill walking, yoga and triathlon coaching. Currently he is building a new garage at his home.

He says: “In my early 50s I got a lot fitter than I’d been for years, although there were a few noticeable differences from when I was younger and fitter.

“It took me longer to build my fitness than in my 20s and DOMS [Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness] was worse two days after activities rather than being the next day when I was younger.

“I don’t seem to be able to ‘bounce’ as well as when I was in my 20s so when hillwalking I now use poles, both up and down hill. This helps take pressure off my knees, which are niggly, but very importantly it also helps me to avoid wee slips.

“Now, in my 60s, I find myself making groaning noises, when I try to get up from the floor and it also feels like a lot of effort is required.

“There is a progressive decline in my physical abilities, perhaps due to ageing or maybe because I have been focusing on the garage build and less on the sports recently. I also have some aches and pains from historical niggles that can affect how I exercise now. However, I am not ready to give up.”

Duggie adds: “And the other thing I have noticed it that time appears to accelerate, with not enough time to do what I want to, even though I’m now retired.”

Duggie races in a triathlon.

Duggie’s tips for fitness over 50

As you get older, you should do what you can, whenever you can. (You never know how long you will continue to be able to do it, so you should do as much as you can now.)

I have a wee mantra: If you don’t use it, you’ll loose it.

I believe in doing what you enjoy, with people that you enjoy being with because it’s much easier to be active with other people than on your own.

You’re never too old to start new activities, to try something new or improve on something that you do.

Find activities you enjoy and do them with friends of all ages.Duggie, second left, with GTC friends.

Don’t restrict yourself by age, gender or anything else. If you share an interest or physical ability, go for it. Mix with folks of all ages.

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