When Is It Too Late To Get Fit?

senior coach potatoesEarlier this week I came back from my summer vacation, thinking about the “inevitable” physical decline that is a part of aging.

[highlight]How much of our physical decline is really age-dependent and how much of it is a consequence of your sedentary lifestyle and lousy habits?[/highlight]

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What got me thinking about the issue was spending time with my mother. She’s a 65-year old baby boomer who retired in early 2008. She’s only a little overweight, but her physical fitness has been on decline ever since her retirement.

One moment during my visit specifically stuck my mind: we were getting off a bus and my mother had a hard time negotiating the last long step from bus to curb. After that she briefly remarked that soon she won’t be able to board a bus on her own.

In my opinion, it’s a really bad sign if at age 65 your leg and thigh muscles are so weak you can’t carry your weight when you go up and down stairs. Next you’ll be to weak to get off the sofa!

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The one thing I’m convinced of is the fact that my mother’s loss of muscular strength is not a consequence of an  inevitable aging process. It’s a consequence of living an increasingly passive life: spending her days in front of the telly, reading books lying on a sofa and using a car for shopping and running errands. Plus, our house is on one level, so she doesn’t get to “exercise” her leg and thigh muscles going up and down stairs.

That’s not enough to keep her fit for carrying out the normal activities of life. And it’s definitely not ok to accept that as part of “normal aging”.

The Dangerous Mindset

In my opinion, accepting physical deterioration as a part of normal aging more often than not leads to an even steeper decline in physical fitness.

Here’s how it happens. You think that the weakness and pain (bum knees, anyone?) you experience is part of the normal aging process, so you draw the conclusion that you’re getting old. Without even noticing it, you start avoiding many strenuous physical activities.

And because you avoid strenuous physical activities, you body gets less and less exercise and you grow ever weaker.

This is not part of normal aging process, that’s something you unwittingly do to yourself.

Too Old To Get Fit And Strong?

But isn’t it too late to get fit in your sixties, eighties or nineties?

Hogwash, I say.

Let me I treat you to one of my favorite cases: Ida Keeling. Ida Keeling is a 95-year-old woman from Bronx, New York. She started running at 67 and just this year broke the world record of running 60 meters in 29.86 seconds. Check her interview below.

Getting unfit is often a slow and insidious process, and it may be difficult to tease apart cause and effect. It may be a good idea to take a good look at your lifestyle to see how you might be contributing to your “age-related” physical decline.

Best Wishes,

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Comments

  1. Hi Satu! Very interesting topic. I know a couple of gym buddies who were older than your mom before they got in shape. So it is definitely possible.

    More importantly, your mom’s situation does not equal your own in the future. I totally agree with you that our fitness depends upon us when we get older. <<which is good news for us, since we both like exercise.

    🙂 Marion

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