When Do You Begin To Get Old? The Day You Skip the Gym
Line up twenty average, healthy people of various ages, say 30–70, and ask them to walk briskly up and down the block two or three times. Then guess their ages.
I guarantee, you’ll add years to the ages of the couch potatoes and take as much as a decade off the folks who exercise regularly.
What will give their ages away?
The shuffle, the slouch, the panting at the end of a relatively short workout. The grimace at having to push the body to work a little harder than it’s used to.
This very unscientific test isn’t about expecting a 70-year-old-woman to have the fitness level of a 30-something. If you were an expert on this panel and conducted some tests, you’d find that the older men and women who exercised regularly didn’t just look better in their jeans, they had developed potent weapons to fight the effects of aging.
Take a look at just one study to prove that skipping your workouts is hazardous to your health.
The University of Birmingham group showed that regular exercise throughout one’s life could turn back the clock on the immune system, as well as promote cardiac health, keep bones strong, and joints limber.
From personal experience, I can tell you that when I worked with personal trainers in my 60s and early 70s to maintain a functional level of fitness, they often pointed out that I did more reps and heavier weights than their 20 and 30-year-old clients, who couldn’t get through a set without checking their Tinder accounts.
At my gym, I see many seniors working their biceps like a boss alongside a 40-something coming into the gym hefting a twenty-pound beer gut struggling on the treadmill, dispelling any myth about little old ladies needing help crossing the road.
What about starting to exercise when you’re older? When is it too late?
Never, according to my personal expert. I had open-heart surgery at age 72, which had slowed down my exercise program considerably. When I visited my surgeon prior to the operation, he warned me he could fix my heart, but he didn’t want to see me ruin my body by not exercising and keeping myself fit.
The only reason elderly people become frail, he said, is because they don’t exercise.
They allow their bodies to become weak. If they fall, they break bones, and then their lives are over. Stay strong and fit, and all things being equal, you’ll take years off your calendar age.
Need more proof? How about this 84-year-old weight lifter? Oh, you might say, he’s been doing that all his life. And you’d be way wrong. This Brit started his power moves at age 75. Since then, he has accumulated more medals than many of us could lift.
If he doesn’t inspire you, let’s talk about Mick Jagger. I know, who’s Mick Jagger you younguns are saying? Stick around, because when the rock stars of the universe are named, Mick will be up at the top, alongside whatever lightweight is hot right now.
Mick interests me, not so much for his music, though I quote his lines often enough, but he had the same heart surgery I did. I even wrote about my six degrees of separation with Mick.
Upon further research, I understand why Mick came out swinging after having his heart pulled apart and put back together, and it took me awhile.
Mick has been toning his body since day one. Take a look at this video and scroll through to the discussion on his health routine, taking up aerial yoga at age 74 to change up his routine. No wonder he was dancing in the streets six weeks after his operation. My nephew saw his come back show recently and said he rocked it like a teenager. That’s because he was so fit before the surgery.
We don’t have to have Mick’s talent or fame to have his commitment to keeping our bodies in shape. But we can use his inspiration to keep our insides youthful and healthful. To keep us rocking it as long as we can.
Nothing makes you feel old quite like getting out of bed, bent over, aching and stiff.
And that can happen in your forties as easily in your sixties and seventies. Ask me how I know. But the body has wondrous powers of renewal and rejuvenation if you give it a chance. Some gentle stretching, planks, walking, light weights on a daily basis can have you feeling like your old self, excuse me, your young self, before you know it. Ask me how I know.
Once you get past your initial creakiness, you can move on to bigger exercise challenges.
Even SENIOR seniors, move on in their routines. Yoga teacher Peggy Cappy has held classes for the elderly for years, people starting at 70, 80, and even 90, who must do their routines in a chair. Yet, with consistent practice, they find they increase their strength and mobility from where they started. I’d post a link to Peggy, but I can only find one that sells her stuff. But her sessions with elderly yoga practitioners sitting in chairs speaking of how revived their yoga practice has made them feel inspired me.
So what’s the best exercise to keep you young and dispel the effects of age?
The one you’ll do regularly, the one you like and enjoy, the one that fits most easily into your life. My mother was a ferocious walker, and without a car in our family, she walked miles to and back from the store, the church, her various appointments. She and her neighbors would have laughed at the idea of going to a gym. But life wasn’t as sedentary back then.
I have to be more creative because I spend my day at the computer. I get lazy and have to use alerts to get me out of my chair. Reminders to walk to the library, the grocery store up the hill, rather than the one at the corner.
The best motivator for me is to spend a day with my young nieces and nephews, as I did yesterday, and have them help me in and out of the car. That’s a slap in the head to remind me I’m not getting to the gym enough, I’m not quite limber enough. So I write an article admonishing you to do the thing I must start again today.
As soon as I finish this article, I will practice what I preach.
I’ll take this stiff, sluggish body to the gym and rev it up again. It’s what it wants, what it needs if I want to stay neck and neck with Father Time.
I hope you will, too, those of you who haven’t started, or who thinks it might be too late.
You might enjoy some other stories about my perspective on life, love, and aging well.
Just Because You’re 80 Doesn’t Mean You’re Old. Yeah, I Feel Your Pain
Being Truly Old Can’t Come Soon Enough
I’m 80 and Today’s the Day I Get My Act Together
But who out there in self-help land is writing for me?
I’m a Binge Queen and It’s a Royal Pain in the Behind.
But after all these years, I think I like it like that.
I’m an editor and writer on Medium with Top Writer status in Writing, Psychology, This Happened to Me, Food and Cooking and an editor for the publication, Rogues Gallery. I’ve published 55 titles on Amazon and edit fiction and nonfiction for private clients. If you’d to hire me as your editor, please contact me here. If you’d like to read more of my stories and tips for success on Medium, click here sign up for my newsletter. I’ll make sure you don’t miss a word. Thank you for reading.