Early this morning, I woke up in Washington DC, where I’m going to be delivering a speech in the late afternoon. I’m sitting at my desk in the sweet early hours, my workout gear on, ready to head out to the first floor where I know the gym is located.
As I open my computer, an article about fitting any exercise program to one’s fitness level after 60 by Linda Melone pops up and naturally, I start reading. Within seconds, I have nearly fallen out of my chair.
As a late-blooming athlete in my mid-60s, Melone’s opening salvo whacked my funny bone so hard I just had to write a supportive response.
Melone and I both spend a fair bit of time at the gym. She was commenting about the lamentations of a 30-year-old who was soliciting support from her online buds for getting so old.
I am grinning as I write this. Oh, PUH-LEEZE.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I love my age, my body, my wrinkles, and whatever minimal modicum of wisdom those hard-won years might have laid at my (aging) feet.
Melone emphasizes – quite correctly – that not only can we exercise enthusiastically at any age, what we have learned about our bodies actually allows us to do so with a combination of greater care and respect for our bodies.
At nearly 66, I will be soon heading to Africa to climb a very large mountain – or try – and ride a horse for a week in Madagascar.
That doesn’t make me lucky.
I’ve battled obesity and smoking and a great many other body issues to get here. Luck doesn’t play into this at all. It’s extremely hard work, and it’s also what I’m passionate about.
As Melone clarifies, age gives us a deep respect and care for the remarkable vehicle that has brought us this far. Whatever we’ve done to and with our bodies has resulted in where we are right now. Above all, we can make changes.
Those changes are, as with all things, incremental. The older we get, the longer it may take. However, you CAN expect improvements, and while they don’t happen overnight, you will enjoy them.
The oldest female body builder in the world is Ernestine Shephard, who didn’t even pick up a dumbbell until she was nearly 60. You and I, at any age, can enter a workout program which can transform our bodies, improve our flexibility (PLEASE explore Gentle Yoga) and vastly improve our life options.
Several times a week, I hike stairs in preparation for my mountain-climbing trip, and that has introduced me to a great many people, well past 60, who are equally committed.
For example, Ellie, 67, moved to Colorado (from Boston) just a year ago. A teacher, she hits the steps with her border collie every morning before heading to work.
Ellie’s no athlete. She just wants to live where exercising outside doesn’t mean sucking up people’s car exhaust. She has no interest in summitting a big mountain. Not her thing. She simply wants a healthier body.
Sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) is a fact of life for us all. After we’ve reached our reproductive peak age in our 20s, Nature decides that it’s time to start the long, slow decline.
What’s well within our reach is to significantly slow that decline down through good eating habits and exercise that we enjoy. The latter is key because you and I won’t do something we hate.
If you find youth in yoga, you will do it every day with enthusiasm and joy. Regular yoga has saved my life on more than one occasion. Yoga and walking are – for many of us greying girls – the best ways to invite our bodies to greater health.
Those, along with a big dose of laughter.
The promise of a youthful body – no cellulite, no aches and pains, no creaky joints, etc. – largely belongs to the young. What is guaranteed to any of us willing to do the work is better quality of life.
Even if you’ve never exercised, you can begin today.
What you and I have over youth is a combination of perspective, wisdom, and the emotional maturity that can only be gained through road rash. I wouldn’t want those angst-ridden decades back if I had to forfeit the life lessons that got me here.
The other day, I was surprised to realize my cellulite had gone into hiding (it never leaves, it just hibernates). It took 40 years. I’ve got better legs at 66 – along with the skin sag – than I had at 30. Not what I expected, but there you go.
I can waste precious hours bemoaning my wrinkles.
Or I can head out the door in the gorgeous pink of dawn, greet my fellow aging buddies and enjoy the promise of a brand-new day.
Over the hill? No. We simply know that once over this hill, there’s yet another. That’s the beauty of being 60-plus.
Youth is fleeting.
Perspective is priceless.
What is the most important thing that age has taught you? Why do younger women look at ageing as something to run from? Have you had the same attitude when you were 30? Please share your comments below.
Tags Getting Older