December 15, 2021
In this newsletter . . .
and Happy Holidays
We have one of those big, curved-screen model TVs. Its crisp picture and sound draw you right into the action. Sports feel like you’re on the field of play. What wonderful entertainment that modern technology has provided. That’s the good side. On the other hand, we also recognize how dangerously seductive it is.
High-definition TVs, added to smartphones, i-pads, computers, and other tech gizmos, and there’s little reason to leave one’s chair, unless it’s to move to the sofa. Even though we know human biological history argues against such slouch. For good health, people must move. Everyday. If we don’t, trouble sets in: heart problems, diabetes, cancers.
Still, even if we take care of ourselves, by the time we reach our senior years most 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. But we must not use them as excuses. We must not let them 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 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 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. Even 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 some years of absence, I went back to weight training. I approached it cautiously. For example, if I found a particular exercise aggravated something (I'm not talking about normal, mild muscle soreness), I stayed away from that movement altogether.
Later 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, and grappling that is the core of typical 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 85. I still usually exercise six or seven days per week, alternating resistance training with cardio. My cardio these days are forty-minute walks with my dog. For resistance work, I may use kettlebells, very sparingly, but mostly resistance bands, which I enjoy more and more. My wife, Patty, has one of those fancy Peloton bikes. But indoor cycling isn’t for me. Besides, my dog loves our walks together.
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.
Stay healthy. Stay fit.
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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.
I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.
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