For Mary Philip, 90-year-old from Bangalore the day begins at 4 am, when she wakes up, and sets out for an early morning walk at 5 am. She walks for an hour covering the 4 km stretch in Koramangala, Hosur road and returns at 6 am. If she walks fast, she covers the distance in 50 minutes, which she has measured multiple times. Daily walking the secret recipe of Philip’s healthy ageing.
Speaking to Happiest Health, the nonagenarian recalled her everyday morning walk. “I begin my day with hot water and filter coffee. I walk for an hour. I walk alone. I just focus on the white lines on the side of the road while walking,” says Philip, who started walking in the mornings in 2008. She also used to workout with the gym equipment installed in a Koramangala park closer to her house, which she had to stop during the pandemic. She actively played Badminton with her friends from 1992 to 2008. “Over the years, some of them passed away, and some were unable to play like before. That’s when I started walking in the mornings,” says Philip.
While walking, she makes sure that she doesn’t fall. “I am steady on my two feet. I don’t jog. I do fast walking. I am strong and I keep myself healthy,” says Philip. She smiles when she says, “I have no diabetes, and my blood pressure is slightly on the border line.” She ensures her socks, shoes are intact and is specific about loose fitting cotton chudidars for her walk.
4 km fast daily walk every morning for the last 15 years
In the last 15 years of her walk, she has met multiple jogging, walking enthusiasts who have appreciated her regularity and spirit to show up every morning with zeal and have tried to chit-chat with her. But Philip has always chosen not to engage in conversations with anyone while on walk and she prefers to walk silently and alone, so as to avoid any distractions. For anyone wanting to pick-up a conversation amidst her walk, Philip would reply with her smile and move on.
“I don’t prefer talking to anyone while on a walk, it can distract me and slow down my pace. We should not talk and walk. It would be a waste of energy,” says Philip. Many onlookers also wonder at her age, as her speed can put a teenage walker to shame. Many who spot her daily walking briskly do ask her about her age. Her standard answer will be a smile followed by “Guess my age.”
“They ask me if I am 70, 75. I tell them that I am very old, may be older than their mother. And I continue to walk,” she says, who firmly believes that exercises are a must to keep oneself healthy.
Healthy habits, healthy living
Returning from walking at 6 am, Philip begins her exercises at home, which includes 50 times touching her feet without bending the knees. She also lifts her leg up to 90 degrees and exercises. “I was an athlete since my childhood and passionately played badminton during schooling. My interest in sports has always kept me hale, healthy and strong in fact,” says Philip, who takes life as it comes. Waking up early, regular daily walk, exercises, eating less, less consumption of rice but more of vegetables, pulses, winding up early are the open secrets of her healthy ageing, she adds.
“My exercises, regular walk helps my blood circulation and keeps my memory intact,” says Philip, who has no typical ageing issues like hearing or vision problems.
Philip also has her share of woes, but doesn’t let the baggage of sadness affect her daily life. “I lost my son and daughter at a young age. Lately my husband too passed away. I was also depressed and was on antidepressant medication earlier. I chose to be out of grief eventually and learnt my own ways to deal with it,” says Philip, who is known in her family, friend circles for her culinary skills.
“I like cooking. I bake puddings and my Christmas cake,” says Philip, for whom spending time in the kitchen and preparing healthy, nutritious food is no less than a therapy. “I also stay positive to keep my grief away,” says Philip, who is known for her interest in quizzes and solving puzzles.
To connect with her grandchildren who live abroad, Philip started using a smartphone for the last couple of years and is now well-versed.
“I play puzzles and keep watching quizzes. I memorise the questions and answers and ask my acquaintances the same questions,” says Philip, who always keeps herself occupied.
Her family friend Dr Mary Varghese who meets her often says that Philip is a very positive spirited person. “She carries such grace and is never complaining. A fast and disciplined walker, she has taken good care of her health. She is truly an inspiration to me and many around her,” says Dr Varghese.