South African grannies have dedicated the remaining part of their lives to boxing and gyming, physical activities that according to studies when integrated with social connectivity, leads to longer life span.
68-year-old Mable Makhosi has noticed drastic changes in her health since she started boxing in the gym for the last four years. She noted an improvement in her health sugar levels and blood pressure.
“When I came here, I found my sugar can be controlled, even my high blood pressure. When I went to the hospital for a check-up, my doctor asked me, ‘What did you do? You used to have a problem with diabetes!’ I’d say ‘No, I’ve done my exercises.’ And my doctor told me I’m doing well, and the exercise is helping me,” she said.
80-year-old Constance Ngubane has been in the rings since the Boxing Gogos (another name for “grandmother” in South Africa) program began in 2014.
“My life was on and off, you know. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. But since I started boxing, I feel young, like I’m 16. But I’m not 16; I’m 80! I love to mix with the other grannies. They are like family,” said Ngubane.
Claude Maphosa, one of the visionaries behind this project, has watched the grannies transform since the program began, seeing them gain confidence, boost their self-esteem and become full of life, an aspect that has given her motivation.
“What I’ve learned from these grannies is, you have to have patience, perseverance and you’ve got to be disciplined yourself. It teaches you a lot about life and the way of health and encourages me to keep on going,” he said.
While boxing, social connectivity with others becomes an additive to the boxing components.
“Social connectivity both within one’s own peers, within a family, between generations. We know that in many ways, that can have almost the same effect as living a good life, eating well, not smoking, not drinking too much alcohol. A lot of research is now looking at social relationships and how social networking, like avoiding loneliness, for example, can help somebody live a longer life,” said Sarah Harper, professor of gerontology at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.