Enjoying the Things You Love the Most – And How Fitness is Essential
Jacqueline wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of climbing the Masada in Israel. Sheila wanted to participate with her son, a Special Olympian, and inspire other women to exercise. Arielle wanted to lose weight and get healthy enough to play with her grand children.
What do these 60-somethings have in common? They all relied on exercise to help them enjoy their lives as fully as possible. From reaching “bucket list” goals to living their best lives every day, seniors are finding more and more that exercise isn’t really about fitness.
Exercise is really about living well, enjoying yourself, and staying healthy, even as you get older. When someone starts telling you how great fitness is, it’s only natural for you to mentally check out of the conversation. “Fitness? Who cares about fitness,” you might think. “I’m finally retired and I want to do what I want to do!” But if your body isn’t functioning at its best, you won’t be able to do much at all.
Make the Most of Your Time
By retirement age, most Americans have spent 90,000 hours working, 2,400 hours in traffic, and up to six months waiting in various lines. If you’re like them, you’ve put off vacations and purchases, deferred pleasure and – in many cases – picked up some bad health habits over the decades. Who can blame you? It’s the inevitable outcome of the Rat Race. During your working years, you were working. You were working all the time, it seemed. Or picking up the kids, or taking care of the home. And now… Now you’re retired, or getting close to that magic moment, and your time is more at your disposal.
Like you, most senior Americans have no intention of sitting on the couch and pulling the blinds. You still want to travel, to play with the grand children, to enjoy hobbies and sports, to keep your stress and blood pressure low, to manage chronic health conditions and avoid injuries. You want health, longevity and more awesome life experiences, many of them with younger generations of your family.
In short, you want to enjoy this stage of life as much as possible. Yes, yes, of course, you might say – But what does that have to do with fitness?
It’s All About Functioning
Simply put, you need your body to function if you want to continue enjoying life as fully as possible. As we age, Americans are more susceptible to falls, injuries, high blood pressure, pulled muscles and general lack of stamina. Any of those can inhibit your ability to travel, golf, play with children or feel confident in social settings.
So, what does it mean to be fully functioning?
It means you’re strong, flexible and in good cardiovascular health. Functional means you’re not carrying around too much extra weight. It means your sense of balance is good enough to keep you from falling, and your muscles are able to move you around safely. Functional fitness doesn’t mean you have to live at the gym and become a body builder or aerobics fanatic. It just means you respect your body enough to take care of it, so you can do what you want to do.
‘I’m Too Young for That’
That’s definitely the case for countless seniors who live a healthy lifestyle, including Jacqueline, Sheila and Arielle. “The main thing is movement,” Sheila says. “It’s so important to just do some kind of movement.” They’re not alone, or even that unusual.
We know Joanne, who hiked across Europe with her family in her 80s – and she has Parkinson’s disease. Lana, 84, who uses the same workout as the Purdue University football team. And Francis, 51, just ran the annual Fourth of July 10K in Atlanta for the 10th straight year, despite a recent ankle injury.
As for Arielle, she lost the weight, retired, and relocated to be nearer her grandchildren. Sheila continues to coach woman and accompany her son to events. And Jacqueline made it all the way to the top of The Masada in Israel.
“That really pushed my limits,” said Jacqueline. “I’ve always wanted to be active, but after I turned 55 or so, things got harder. But you know, I’m not going to let that stop me from living! I’m too young for that.”