November 1, 2018
In this newsletter . . .
Two years ago, Patty and I bought a new television set, one of those big, curved screen models. Now, watching sports at home feels like you’re on the field of play. The crisp picture and sound draw you right into the action. And at my age, crowded parking lots and stadium seating don't appeal to me as much as they once did. Not when you can actually see the games much better on high-def TV.
So we love it—but also recognize how seductive it is. Add big screen TVs to smart phones, i-pads, computers, and other hi-tech stuff, and there’s little reason to leave one’s chair, unless it’s to get even more comfortable on the sofa. But that’s not good. As nearly everyone knows, human biological history argues against such slouch. For good health, you’ve got to move. Every single day. If we don’t, trouble sets in: heart problems, diabetes, cancers, et cetera. You know the
On the other hand, by the time we reach our senior years even the fittest of us have acquired at least one or two chronic physical annoyances. Maybe it's a trick knee, a tennis elbow, or a bad back. Maybe it's something more serious. But whatever the level, we must not let it condemn us to the couch. Unless your physician, for some valid reason, tells you not to exercise at all—keep moving. Just be smart in your approach.
Until almost 60, I still did some martial arts. But as the years added up, I'd often wake up in the morning still tired following a workout the day before. Worse, I'd occasionally make a quick twist or turn, feel a pinch in my spine, and I was in for several rather miserable days of backache.
I denied the truth for quite a while, but finally gave in to the fact that it was time to face some of the unpleasant realities about aging. Quick stop-start activities, such as martial arts, and another old favorite, handball, no longer made
sense for me. So I bowed out. Though I wasn't quite ready for the rocking chair.
Instead, I practiced Qigong (pronounced chee-kung) for a while and learned new stretching and relaxation techniques. Then after years of absence, I went back to weight training. I approached it cautiously. If I found a particular exercise aggravated something (I'm not talking about normal, mild muscle soreness), I stayed away from that movement. Later on, while still in my 60s, I was able to lead cardio-kickboxing classes. They were solid workouts (around the gym they were known as “butt-kickers”), but without actual contact kicking, punching or grappling that is the core of most martial arts training.
Then as I reached 70, the pace of the kickboxing classes
became more than I could realistically handle. I missed the fun but it was time once again to recognize my limitations. Once again I backed off a little.
Today, I’m 82. I still usually exercise six days per week, doing resistance training every other day. My resistance workouts are concise and brief and always include a warm-up and a cool-down. I don’t rush but move steadily and do not stand around talking. I may use kettlebells or bands, which I’m enjoying more and more. For cardio, I take daily walks. I may buy a bike. I no longer run and haven’t done so for some time. And the poundage of any weights that I lift these days is quite moderate.
The gradual paring down approach has worked for me, and it can work for almost
anyone as the years add up. Whatever your age, or fitness level, you have to be smart about training. Get good information and advice. Put solid effort into your workouts. But beware of youthful foolishness. Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) was right: "A man’s got to know his limitations." A woman does, too.
To your lasting good health.
Senior Exercise Central
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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.
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