Fitness Really Matters

Because of technological advances our lives have become much more sedentary. We no longer have to get up to change the channel on the TV nor do we have to actively engage our arm muscles to roll a car window down or up. We even get to sit in our car as it is being washed for us.

Because of these marvelous advances we as a population have lost a lot of our muscle tone and even our endurance. We no longer walk to the store or even walk to the mailbox, in some cases.

When someone loses the ability to do things for themselves it’s not because of the aging process it’s because of disuse. The best news is that it is never too late to adopt a more active lifestyle.

Most people who have difficulty sticking with a health-promoting program usually make it too complex. Along with activities that promote cardiovascular fitness, such as walking or cycling, you can add all sorts of leisure activities (dancing, bowling), indoor work activities (vacuuming & sweeping the floor), outdoor work activities (gardening, washing the car) and recreational sports (golf, volleyball, softball).

You really have hundreds of choices for healthful activities. The key is to find something that you truly enjoy and then stick to it!

I read a statement once that said “we don’t stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing”. This is so true.

As we look at the older population we see that balance is an issue. Maybe it’s because we don’t walk on the railroad tracks anymore or that we don’t try to walk on a raised cement rail or because we stopped jumping on a pogo stick or we no longer ride our bikes. Do you remember walking on stilts? See, we stopped playing so we got old.

Balance starts to decline by the age of 25 and that makes a lot of sense because that’s about the time we start supporting a family and become too busy to “play”. When we notice that our sense of balance is gone, we make excuses not to go for a walk because we might fall. More and more time is spent sitting and not exercising.

As we age it is documented that we lose our strength. Here is where we can say “use it or lose it”. Strength improves our independence allowing us to do many things on our own. When we lose our strength we lose our autonomy.

All too often I hear people remark that “Oh, I can’t do this or I can’t do that.” This attitude will age a person faster than anything. Pretty soon that same negative person won’t even show up to say those words. If that same person would have been able to say “I’ll try” the results would have been positively phenomenal.

Movement is the essence of life; with little or no flexibility we can no longer perform the activities of daily living.

Endurance exercises are those that enhance breathing & heart rate. Endurance seems to be something that declines with age….maybe because we don’t challenge ourselves to try for that extra mile or another 15 minutes of walking, running or bike riding. We need to push ourselves to stretch for that next level of fitness that comes from consistency with determination.

So, looking back we see that strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, & a positive mental attitude are the 5 things that are essential to keeping us young. These five essentials are what make up Strength Training. It has been said that Strength Training is the closest thing we have to the “Fountain of Youth”.

Most gerontologists and epidemiologists breakdown the older population by age, i.e. 50-64 as the older age of youth; the 64-75 as the young old; 75-85 as the older old; 86 plus as the frail old or the old-old; and 100 and older as centenarians.

Physical educators and exercise physiologist differentiate between chronological and physiological age. Chronological refers to the person’s birth date; physiologic or biological age is the physical condition, energy level and the body strength of the individual.

I believe it was Mickey Mantle that was quoted as saying “If I’d known I would live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself”. Let’s start taking care of ourselves today!