By: Blonde Two

Mr B2 and I don’t watch much TV but we have recently fallen upon a couple of episodes of the BBC’s ‘How to Stay Young’. I am not overly obsessed with age and am actually looking forward to my next ‘big birthday’ in January but, I guess like everybody my age, I do these days have an awareness of the ageing process and the impact it is likely to eventually have on my activities.

The program (and the little ‘Test Your Lifestyle‘ quiz that comes with it, focuses on 3 main contributors to ageing (besides actually getting older), the way we eat, our activity levels and our ability to remember things. I scored well on the first two (it was a very simple quiz) but it was the final one and the program’s emphasis on learning as a counteractive factor to ageing that interested me the most.

I have always been a fan of learning. To some extent, I don’t mind what it is that I am learning (which is just as well as my job requires me to write on any number of strange topics). As well as that, I am a firm believer in the idea that nothing you learn is ever wasted. True I might never live to realise the potential of knowing a bit about motorsport circuit safety or the top 5 CCTV cameras but the history of Macau did come up in conversation the other day and I do savour those moments when I can think, ‘I know that,’ even more, when I realise how long ago I learnt them.

(Mr B2 and I Christmas 2005 and yes, that is Baby Jesus strapped to the front of my boat!)

Much of my late 30s were spent kayaking both on the sea and on the River Dart. I did the basic whitewater routes and learnt a lot about river flow, eddies and how they work together to capsize a boat (you had to learn a lot or else you fell in, at which I was spectacularly good). Whilst I was swimming the Dart 10K this all came back to me and I used the knowledge to my advantage. I understood (but didn’t like the experience) why my legs were getting sucked under the feed station raft and I knew to swim on the outside of the bend to enjoy maximum water flow.

Photo Ju Lewis

Navigation and outdoor leadership are great examples of learning that continues to add to itself and challenge your brain. Each outing, each group of people and each set of weather conditions brings new learning. B1 and I sometimes formalise this by writing a ‘next time’ list but often we just discuss things, a kind of informal ‘debrief’ but very important.

I fear I am rambling (and not in an outdoors way). My point today is, I think, that learning is as good for us as physical exercise and that the outdoors provides just as much opportunity for learning as does sitting at a desk… ergo (Mr B2 likes that word) outdoor learning has to be a VERY GOOD THING.

The title of today’s post is half of a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

‘Live as if you were to die today, learn as if you were to live forever.’