There are times I feel I must have blinders on. I have opinions about things (especially aging, which is why I started this blog) and wonder why everyone does not feel similarly. In my mind things are simple. Then when I hear other people talking about them I realize I must be odd — or perhaps I just haven’t thought about the alternatives. I’m sure there are a slew of psychologists here who could tell me what that means.
This feeling of being obtuse is not necessarily a bad thing — I see it as akin to blissful ignorance. It comes into play with me regarding aging most acutely when it comes to exercise. First I must tell you I am no svelte hardbody. Just a few months shy of my 68th birthday, my once-tiny waist is gone and it has been a good, long while since I could see my hip bones lying down. But I don’t see what that has to do with anything, because I know I will never look the way I did 30 years ago. 30 years ago working out was what other people did. I didn’t think I had to because my clothes still fit.
I didn’t have to read a bunch of research to convince myself that exercise was good for me, but I am fascinated by it when I come across it. I learned that exercise actually slows cell aging, and to me that was huge. Health.com goes on to say, “It doesn't just make you feel younger—it may actually turn off the aging process in your chromosomes.” Suddenly the idea of regular exercise sounded tantamount to getting a facelift without having to deal with the expense or the scalpels. Even though it has nothing to do with wrinkles, it has everything to do with feeling confident, limiting how much jiggle remains in my underarms.
Aging is not fun. I see it as a journey that presents me with a series of decisions, however. The biggest decision is — what am I willing to accept as I age? Will it be okay that I can no longer balance well enough to stand up to pull on my jeans? Will it bother me that I can no longer “hop” up even a short a set of stairs when I want to? Will I be okay with having to grab the handrail when descending stairs with a pair of pumps on — or must even (heaven forbid) make a decision about never wearing pumps again? Will I accept that getting up off the floor causes me to roll onto all fours and grab for a piece of furniture nearby? In my (limited) way of thinking, none of that is acceptable as long as my health is okay and all my moving parts still work. And if some of these issues are weight-related, what is stopping me from eliminating that impediment? Laziness? Inertia? A love affair with garlic bread? Whose life is this anyway? So when some of these things began happening to me in my early 60s, I felt as if the world were playing some cruel joke on me and I didn’t get the punch line. Suddenly they became unacceptable.
Here are some cold, hard facts about exercise after age 55:
There is so much else to talk about regarding regular exercise. Sleep improves. Skin glows. And every day things like craning your neck to see if there is a car in the next lane before you move over — all of these things are affected by how well we move.
Please understand that it was only a few years ago (my mid 60s) that I truly began to embrace the benefits of regular exercise. Do I enjoy it? Not just no. Hell no. 4- letter words escape my mouth with each last hoist, repetition or grunt that arise out of my exercise routine. My trainer just laughs. By now she has seen everything. I doubt there is anything about sweating and being muscle sore that gives me cause to smile except knowing how I may be adding years to my life. And even if I’m not (who ever knows when their time is up?), I will be able to move better during those final years. In my mind I won’t walk, talk or even think like an old lady as long as I keep moving.
Bottom line: we are like classic cars. The older we get, the more maintenance we need. Body parts can be replaced, but nothing keeps us running like blowing the residue from those fouled plugs out our tailpipes after we have been sitting in the garage for a while. I rest my case.