My 92-year old mother is having mobility issues. She grew up in an era when Crisco was considered a food group and the only person we heard of at a gym was Jack LaLanne. As a result, I’m determined to remain active. By the way, Jack’s memory lives on. He even has a juicer named after him.
Whether you choose to dance to your playlist at home in your undies or suit-up and drag yourself to the gym a few times a week (like I do), you need to move, move, move as you get older, even if you’ve never exercised in your life.
The value of exercise (especially in our 50’s and beyond) is scientifically proven. It’s good for your heart, your brain, and your mood, alleviating anxiety and depression. It can even be good for your social life if you opt to join a gym, tennis or hiking group or other like-minded crew. Plus, if you know that people are waiting for you to exercise, you may be more likely to show up.
But, if you’re going the group exercise route, be sure to pick a crew and activity that will motivate rather than injure you. I went to a Pilates class one day, expecting a relaxing and flexibility-building hour. Instead, I was met by blaring music and a woman with a headset, shouting at us how to adjust our springs and balance various objects between our knees. I walked out after about 10 minutes. Experiment with different activities until you find something you love and that challenges you without being totally unpleasant.
Wired or Unplugged?
As with many activities these days, you can choose between digital and analog alternatives. Spinning on a Peloton bike, for example, not only burns calories but connects you with a huge network of virtual cycling buddies. Gyms today are filled with all manner of equipment and people have smart devices strapped to their bodies. In fact, I can ask Alexa how many steps I walked every day.
Of course, you can use technology to make any exercise more enjoyable. For example, you can download books and build your brain while you build muscle.
Ironically, however, some of the best activities require no extra machines and technologies. Walking is still considered one of the most effective forms of exercise and Dame Helen Mirren, who has a killer body at 73, credits the 12-minute Royal Canadian Airforce Exercise Plan. Developed in the 1950s, it’s an oldie but goodie — much like we can all be if we get off the couch and move every day. Speaking of oldies…
Wise Old Sayings
It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.
Rumor has it, Socrates walked a lot outside rather than using an elliptical or taking a barre class. But to each his or her own. Just move it!