Exercise isn’t what it used to be. I think maybe it might be my shoes. Or perhaps I don’t have the right water bottle, but whatever it is things have changed. My feet and hips did not use to hurt when I exercised…20 years ago. Another thing that’s changed are my exercise clothes, or more specifically, the way my body looks inside of them. After 50, things started shifting for me, and well, sliding a bit. I suppose if I upped my game a bit, and worked out more, I probably could look more fit. You know, there’s this lady on Pinterest who is 80 and she’s a bodybuilder. She looks phenomenal. Such an inspiration and something to aspire to. I’ll have to try that when I’m 80.
Sometimes we have to trick ourselves into exercise. It might be walking a few extra aisles at the grocery store (which could be expensive) or doing the yardwork yourself, instead of hiring someone. I was talking to a friend, who knows a lady, who allows herself to watch TV only when she’s using the treadmill. This way she isn’t sedentary, sneaks in her exercise and also doesn’t watch too much TV. That would be fine, but where would I set my ice cream bowl while I’m doing that?
Seriously, I know exercise is important throughout life, and especially as we age. Studies show that it is beneficial for our brain, bones, circulation, and muscles. It decreases the risk of dementia, prevents osteoporosis, increases cardiovascular strength and improves muscle mass and balance. Most of us know this, it’s just a matter of making time to do it, and finding the motivation. My sweet husband and I used to go to the gym most mornings early, before work. We would do our own thing, and meet up after. One time, after meeting back up, my husband came back looking somewhat defeated. He said that he was minding his own business, using the weight machines and in the same area he briefly glanced over and noticed an elderly gentleman using a machine also. As he quickly looked back, (it’s rude to ever stare at someone at a gym), he thought to himself, Good for you! You go guy and keep it up. I want to be like that when I get old. It took him a few minutes, and a double-take to realize it was his reflection in a mirror. You know you’re getting older when you don’t recognize yourself in a mirror.
Maybe the gym isn’t for you. Really, it is rather amusing that people pay money to walk, run and lift heavy things. That’s because for some, that’s the only way they will exercise. There are plenty of other ways to move our body that don’t require a membership. My honey and I like to go walking on this convenient trail by our house. It’s a pretty walk and we enjoy coming across other walkers on the trail (we live in a friendly town where everyone says hi). We also like kayaking, ping pong, gardening and playing soccer in the backyard with our grandkids. When we’re on a trip, we love snorkeling, hiking and 4-wheeling. These activities are more like play, rather than exercise, and we’re more likely to do them for a longer period of time. Also, being outdoors is so much more invigorating and a boost for the mood. With winter around the corner, it can be a bit more challenging as the weather changes . There are always classes to find or even just simply walking the mall. I have friends who find their winter exercise by skiing or snowmobiling.
There are programs for seniors that promote and provide exercise. Here in the states, it’s the Silver Sneakers program. You must be over 65 and enrolled in Medicare to take advantage of this program. It provides limited access to participating gyms and tailored classes for that age group. People I’ve talked to seem to enjoy it and benefit from it. The side benefit is that it also provides socialization (and from what I hear from friends, even love connections).
It’s great to try new things, which can take the boredom out of exercise. I didn’t do my first 5k, until after I was 50, and although I mostly walked, I loved it. I also now love Yoga and Tai Chi. You do have to know your limitations too. Not long ago, my granddaughter brought over a new gadget to show us called a hoverboard. She’s only 7 and her sister is 5, but they both are quite good on it. I thought, “How hard can it be?” I did it twice for a couple of minutes and kept my balance! I felt pretty cool. Well, my sweet husband walked in the door, and I said “watch this!” It was a fast and sudden wipeout that caught me off guard. Yea… my shoulder still reminds me that the Hoverboard is NOT for me.
Whether you choose a full-out Zumba class, golf, biking, swimming at the Y or just a daily walk around your neighborhood, we can all benefit from exercise. With people living longer, we have to try and keep healthier and active to improve our quality of life. The perfect exercise for you will be the one that you will enjoy and actually do on a regular basis. Maybe someday we will be the 80-year-old featured in Pinterest. Hover board is optional and not recommended.