Exercise: The Fun and Healthy Way of Growing Old

Have you seen a senior citizen doing tai chi looking grouchy and grumpy at the same time?

Or crying while he’s brisk walking; or bitching about life while tending to his flower garden with tender loving care?

I bet not. It would be like putting salt on the icing of a yummy hazelnut chocolate cake.

It’s because exercise, or any physical activity, has the power of making a lethargic day to a sweat-drenched and invigorating one.

Take it from runner Monte Davis in his book, The Joy of Running, “It’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time.”

Make Exercise Fun:

There are days when getting up from bed is like dragging an oil tanker across a pond, or preparing for my early-morning tennis feels like a slab of lead over my body.

But once the struggle is over, the result is always ecstatic, almost magical – from a lazy and sluggish senior to an extremely energized, and ready to take on another day.

The average age of the guys I play tennis with is 54. The oldest is 70, and I am in the upper average at 68.

At the break of dawn, we are already at the tennis court, lunging, and jumping, as we hit that 2.7in furry, yellow ball over a 3.5in net to the other side.

We are at it, not only to enjoy winning (or humbled from losing) but to have fun. We never think of the exercise part of the game. That is a given. But the fun from all the ribbing we throw at each other is priceless.

The exercise is only coincidental. The main objective is to have fun.

And that’s how you should treat exercise. Getting fit, or living long are natural consequences of the fun you get from the physical activity.

Sadly, a lot of seniors are missing out his part of the exercise hence they don’t exercise at all. For them, it is plain hard labor; it is a total bore.

For example, a survey done on 2,558 Singapore seniors showed that, though nine in ten are strong enough to live alone, a whopping 52% don’t exercise at all.

No reason was given but I bet it could be any of these:

1. They are already old:

Exercise has no age limit. There may be some exercise routines that are age-dependent, but nothing in the book says you can’t exercise because you are too old.

On the contrary, being old is the perfect time to exercise to maintain your sense of balance, muscle mass, and overall physical, emotional and psychological well-being.

You are never too old to have fun.

2. They want to save their strength:

Ironically, research shows that people who regularly exercise are stronger than people who don’t.

Exercise works up the muscles of your arms and legs, your heart, respiratory system and your brain muscles.

On days I don’t play tennis, I take a 45-minute brisk walk, mixed with limbering and isometric exercises. It always makes me feel good.

3. They might fall down and break a leg or something:

Regular exercise works up the leg and arm muscles, improves stamina and balance.

There is no guarantee that you will not experience a fall. But your bones and muscles, strengthened by exercise, will be strong enough to cushion the impact unless you are hit by a car.

I’ve twisted my ankle so many times in tennis, but was back on the court after a couple of weeks healing and rest.

Besides, it is a better risk than face the possibility of developing type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart and brain health problems due to a sedentary lifestyle.

4. They don’t have the time:

This is the most reason why a lot of seniors don’t exercise.

There is always a time for everything if you want to.

Waking up 30mins earlier will give you the time. Thirty minutes after office hours will give you the time, or a 10-min brisk walk around the office don’t cost you that much time.

Yet, you always have the time to see your doctor when you feel something is not right with your system.

Find the time for an exercise before you run out of time.

5. They have physical disabilities:

Oscar Pistorius ran in the 2012 Olympics on artificial legs. And there are now international sporting events for people with disabilities, the paraplegics.

If they can, you can. But you have to overcome your major disability – your mindset.

I have osteoarthritis in both my knees that hurts like hell when using the stairs and I cannot stand for long periods of time. Yet, I don’t allow it to stop me from my regular exercise.

Nobody ever said that it is easy to exercise. It requires discipline; a routine which a lot of seniors are not willing to develop. For them, slouching on a couch, with a bowl of popcorn and soda on the side is easier, it is more fun.

It is, for the moment. Until you develop age-related illnesses due to lack of physical activity. By then, it is already too late.

Regular exercise helps boost your energy, it allows you to be independent, and can reverse some of the symptoms of aging. It is good for your body, mind, mood and memory.

Go with Your Boots On:

We all want to enjoy our retirement life, and we want to live a little longer.

We want to savor good food, good relationship, to travel, and have a good time.

At the same time, we want good health.

But all these don’t come falling down from heaven, and they have a price tag.

How much is it?

It is dirt cheap. At the very least, only thirty minutes a day of light to moderate exercise. It doesn’t tax your bank account, and it is not something you have to sacrifice for. In fact, it is fun.

So why not put on your sweatshirt, workout pants, and sneakers and hit the road while you can? Tomorrow may be too late.