Over Fifty? Exercise is not an Option

Okay, time to come clean and do some sharing. I don’t like being old. I especially do not like feeling old. If you have read anything in any of my Diet and Exercise posts, you know I am a big fan of walking. Exercise is so important for us all and especially the over fifty crowd.

As my Doctor saw I turned fifty he said, “The good times are over, get used to it.” I was devastated. He must be joking. I’m only fifty, I am not getting ready to go make my funeral arrangements. Once the shock of what he told me wore off, I started investigating.

It does seem around fifty is when, if we allow it we start to degrade and fall apart. It gets worse. How fast we degrade and fall apart is totally dependent on how little or much we do to keep body in good condition. It like what the caption on one of my diet and exercise cartoon posts:

“What fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?” – Randy Glasbergen February 20, 1957 – August 11, 2015

I didn’t believe it then, but I am a member of the choir now. Simply put, enough can not be said about the importance of real exercise for everyone, especially for people over fifty. Think about how you feel. Everything is getting a little harder, a little more frustrating?

Standing in a static position used to be a non issue, suddenly after thirty seconds something starts to hurt? After a minute, it really gets painful! Yard work that used to be so relaxing, has taken on the proportions of a mammoth undertaking? No pun intended, but if it is strenuous yard work you are doing, you may start to feel feel you are on the way to the undertaker.

When did all this happen? Where did these pains, creaks, and cracks come from? They started the day you sat or laid down on the couch instead of going out and doing something! Little by little we tone down our activities from the mostly physical, to couch surfing.

What I have read many times in books is true. Up until the last hundred years, we had to work for our food. We had to hunt and gather. We had to walk miles and carry heavy pieces of meat back home. We had to carry all our gathered fruits and vegetables, sometimes miles back to our home. After a few days lounging around, we had to do it again.

As we grew older, we aged little – on the inside. Not like today, where it is acceptable too slowly degrade to a cane, a wheel chair, a hospital bed, and death. A few generations ago, if we did not hunt and gather, we didn’t live long enough to get old. We exercised as a life style, not for something to do.

For some people growing weak and decrepit is acceptable. That’s what their folks did, so it must be normal. In just a few generations we have forgotten, what it’s like to live a full life until almost the end and then fall apart quickly. Why anyone would want to live the life of someone in there late eighties for the last twenty years of their life is beyond me!

The More you exercise, the better life you live!

I know from repeated personal experience, if you want to feel twenty years younger in a few weeks, start walking three to four miles every day, and/or join a gym and use it. It is amazing how those painful joints, creaks, and cracks go away in a few weeks of exercise. Those heavy boxes, suddenly are twenty pounds lighter. Yard work is no longer punishment. Wow.

In short the joy in life is back! All it takes is a three week start on a life long plan of getting as much exercise as you can manage. You may feel like you have been hit by a truck when you start. If so, take two aspirin, and slow down. It took all your life to get in this bad of shape, take a few months of going slowly but steadily to get your body back a healthy state.

Find things you like to do that can be counted as real exercise. Mix weights with some walking, rowing, hiking, anything that gets your heart beating faster for more than a few seconds.

While you are doing all this, you may want to think about foods you are putting in your mouth. Just like the old computer saying, “Garbage in, Garbage out”, the food you eat effects you more now than it ever did.

I used to have pizza and beer some days for lunch and dinner, but those days are long gone. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his movies, “A Man has got to know his limits.” This applies especially with eating. I like feeling my heart beat.

Women, until menopause, it is thought (or was) have a somewhat natural immunity to bad diet and lifestyle. Men never did, it just gets worse faster over fifty. Sitting at a desk all day, typing, does need the calorie intake of a day laborer. You do not need a doughnut to start your morning. On the other hand, a day laborer over forty, should find something healthier to eat than burgers and fries.

So back to me, my come clean and share. This spring, I was walking over fifteen miles a week, and doing HIT – running and walking, feeling really good. That lasted until about the end of May. Then it started getting really hot on the walking path. Then it got hotter. A few days later, it became no fun. Baking in the sun, feeling the hot asphalt through my tennis shoes. I stopped walking because I didn’t want to be up at five to do it. – Like I couldn’t go out at eight or nine. What a sad excuse…

The end of May, June, and July came and went. By the end of July, I was starting to feel old. I hurt, the couch hurt, the bed hurt, my knees hurt. One shoulder and ankle joints were occasionally cracking as I moved. I was really feeling old. I was falling apart fast.

Three weeks ago, I had enough. I joined a gym for the whopping fee of $13.00 a month! Weight machines, stationary bicycles, treadmills, rowing machines and a shower to boot! In just a little over twenty-one days, I can’t say I feel like I am twenty. I can say I feel like I am forty again.

If I hadn’t been walking all these years, I would have thought how I was feeling was normal. Thankfully, due in part to my old doctor and his doom and gloom statement, I knew it was a small matter of exercise to knock off a few decades of how I feel.

I am working on what exactly is the best plan for the gym. Should I do cardio one trip and weights the next, or do them both on the same visit? I am not sure yet. I do know that in a month from now, I will have refined what I do and how I do it.

I want to have fun and feel young again. I want to have a low pulse rate, be as flexible as is reasonable, and be able to pick and move heavy items when I need to. In wrapping up, at any age, you define your own health and fitness. They are a package deal. The older you get the more important they become. Once you reach or drive by fifty, you have two choices.

You can choose to keep as fit and by default as healthy as you can be, or you can develop age and sedentary related problems as you slowly fall apart, living in pain while you wait to die.

While I wrote this for anyone over fifty, it applies to the younger crowd as well. Do you want to live your best live, or just survive? The choice is yours.