How would you like to feel and move, and attend to all the activities you enjoy when you are 80 years old and beyond?
When George Burns was already 90 he was asked by a journalist: “What do you look forward to when you get up in the morning?” He replied “That’s easy – getting up in the morning!” But even getting out of bed can be a major effort for some of us. If you have chronic body pain and issues, it is going to be a challenge to meet each morning with enthusiasm and start out the day with movement. But it has been shown that the earlier in the day we challenge the body in physical activity the more the benefits for our day. Even challenging stiff joints in the morning by slowly warming them up can be a challenge to our patience. And then, keeping ourselves moving once we are up will take some reconditioning, if we have had years of pain and physical stiffness.
The biggest drawback to increasing our physical activity however, is not in our aching muscles and joints. The biggest obstacle to keeping ourselves mobile well into our mature years is our mind. If you believe you can improve your physical stamina, your chances of doing so is many times greater than if you don’t believe you can improve stamina. There have been documented cases of elders who have increased their aerobic fitness in their 80’s after heart attacks or other illnesses. Many have taken up physical fitness in their later years. One reason, of course is the availability of time and accessibility of resources. I have a few friends who are very busy career professionals who will do a 15 minute workout once in a while, but they say that they can not commit a half hour to an hour three times a week. Indeed, recent research shows that intense aerobic workouts will tone the cardiovascular system and rev up metabolism to give significant benefits, such as improved blood pressure and lower heart rate. Nevertheless, if we want to avoid muscle loss and keep the back healthy, supple and strong, we will need more than sudden bursts on an indoor bicycle. My friends who are now 60 plus are surprised that they pull their back muscles out with sudden movements or lifting an unexpectedly heavy object. Why is that a surprise if you haven’t taken care of the muscles, the ligaments, tendons, joints and fascial tissues? All of of these anatomical components work together as a musculo-skeletal system to protect you from injury when the unpredictable event requires an unexpected movement. To keep this system running smoothly and maintain our strength, an investment in the form of some real time will be required. Of course, we all do have this time. What we don’t always have is the will to put in the time. Let’s be frank, we will have to let go of something we are in the habit of doing that is less important. Letting go will only happen if we are convinced that we will reap benefits.
How can we increase enjoyment in our lives as we mature?
All things being equal, positive outlook and persistence make the difference. Other factors that lead to happier and more contented aging include keeping company with vibrant people, getting out of the house and spending time with people of all ages. Stimulation of all kinds is just as important when we are a certain age as it was in our early years and mid life. Of course, our aspirations of what we can accomplish with the body needs a reality check. Very few of us will be mountain climbing and sky diving after the age of 65. But there are so many other leisure physical activities available to us that we may dismiss without really looking into what may make it possible to participate and enjoy those activities at “our age”.
Lucky are those who have enjoyed being in their bodies and moving them since they can remember. Here is Maia aged 94 still doing her 15 minutes of body wake up every morning. Such a simple routine, reminiscent of my yoga workout for my programs. Notice that she is in the company of many generations, especially the lovely ten year old to whom she is imparting that priceless gift of passion for movement and enthusiasm for life.
Enjoy the 7 minute video and incorporate her gentle movements into your morning starting tomorrow.
I will enjoy your feed back.