6 Ways to Overcome the Betrayal of the Body After 60
In my mind and heart I still feel like I can do what I did when I was 30. But it’s just not true. I hung up my tennis shoes a decade ago because the discs in my back are degenerating and they won’t take the pounding anymore. My body has betrayed me.
Occasionally I see a news story about the 70-something woman who is still pushing weights around a gym. Good for her, but my own connective tissue isn’t that thrilled with weights and the indicators are injury and pain.
The physical prowess of youth has receded into the past. I’ve become like the old car that needs time to warm up and can’t be driven as fast or as hard as the newer version.
It’s sad that life recedes from us in this way. Just about the time you get your thinking straight, the body starts to break down. Each winter when I go by the skating rink, I remember gliding across the ice in bliss.
As you know, the bounce back factor from injury is far less than it used to be, and because of that I won’t risk a fall. So, I don’t skate anymore and I miss it. That our physical bodies undergo this change where we are limited is a loss, and it’s one that we should honor before we move on.
This decade of one’s 60s is fraught with so many different types of changes, and the physical changes that happen to us are more pronounced. Here’s a template for how I am negotiating these times and finding new ways to stay physically connected.
Grieve and Honor the Loss
It’s okay to lament that you will never be the active woman that you were in your 20′, 30s and 40s; that the unwelcome weight gain of menopause may never go away. Go ahead and mumble under your breath that getting old is a pain in the yaya.
One of life’s great truths is that everything changes and ends. As our physical body gets older, we have to find new ways to move and celebrate it. A little indulgence into the sorrow of what is gone before finding our new footing can help us to make peace with the changes.
The great, unsung exercise of my senior years is walking and I have fallen in love with it. I now have the time to put on a pair of hiking boots and head up the mountain. I may be slower than the younger part of the pack, but I still make it to the top.
And you don’t need a mountain trail; you can walk in the town where you live. My friend, Dami, calls this “urban hiking.” Walking everywhere has so many health benefits and doesn’t require anything but a decent pair of shoes.
Age Appropriate Exercise
You can’t tell, but I rolled my eyes when I wrote that heading. However, if you are looking for lifelong practices, the age appropriate part does apply. Sigh. Gentle yoga, Pilates and stretching classes are great options at this stage of life. They emphasize breath, the release of tension and core strength. They are slow, deliberate and focused. I find that this type of exercise also calms my monkey mind.
Folk dancing, drumming circles, line dancing, tap dancing… there are dozens of different types of dancing to choose from that will get your heart rate up and your body moving. Classes for seniors are pretty easy to find at rec centers, the YMCA, churches and community centers. And it’s a plus that you get to share the joy of dancing with your fellow hoofers. Dancing is something you can do in your living room too. My husband and I still like to dance to old rock and roll.
Whatever your body is able to do in terms of movement, stick with it and do it often. “Keep moving” is the rule of the day. Walking is my main exercise. Around that I build other things. Pilates two times a week and in the summer months, I take the water aerobics class at the rec center pool, which is fun, refreshing and more relaxing than you can imagine.
People who know me, know that gratitude is my practice and my path. As I move deeper into age, I find that an attitude of gratitude serves whatever I do. I’m filled with appreciation for being able to walk so many different places. I’m thankful that my little town offers classes in yoga, Pilates, dance and swimming.
And I’m grateful to understand and honor that everything changes and ends. With that truth, I know that time is finite and today is the day to get outside and walk in nature. I appreciate that I’m still upright and moving. I have gratitude for the new attitudes that aging brings about.
What about you? How are you moving now that there are some physical limitations to your activity? Hit me up in the comments section and share a piece of your story.
Stephanie Raffelock is a novelist and a blogger. In her Sixty and Me column, she explores writing, living fully and loving well. She enjoys literary representation by Dystel, Goderich and Bouret in New York. You can find Stephanie at StephanieRaffelock.com or Tweet her @Sraffelock.