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FITNESS OVER 50

It can be a drag getting old — but it doesn’t have to be

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Growing old

Sometimes getting older really stinks. But there are some really great things about getting older. It is how we approach it that can help us get through the negative parts of older age.

I am not sure how the heck I got to be 60-and-a-half, but here I am. It happened while I was living life! How about you?

It’s funny how life flies by in stages, not years. Years are basically nothing. They go by so darn fast. I know that I am older, but my mind doesn’t always comprehend.

This is especially true when it comes to working out. It can get very discouraging when your body cannot do what your mind remembers it doing. After all, you used to be able to do this and you used to be able to do that. And boy, were you good at whatever!

Well, that is the past and this is your NOW. Truth is, none of us can do what we used to do. Our stamina is not the same, our balance is not the same, our joints are not the same and our abilities are not the same. Our bodies are not the same.

Accepting the things you cannot change is key to moving ahead and making new and different choices for your wellness routine. Dwelling on what you used to be able to do is a worthless waste of time.

Do you ever wonder if all that stuff you did when you were younger, such as running marathons or flipping through the gym, may not have been the best for you? Maybe all the stuff we did in our teens, 20s and 30s — when we were invincible and pain-free — was slowly causing damage to our joints? Maybe. Anyway, most of us would not go back and change a thing.

We all experience a slowdown with age. It might a full screeching halt or just a gradual acceptance of, “I can’t do that like I used to.” But it is not a shutdown. So keep moving!

I have certainly experienced this in the last couple of years. But it also got me thinking about all the things I can still do. And being thankful for all we still can do is good for our psyche.

I often think of this when people say, “I hate to exercise.” At the same time, I am thinking how thankful I am that my body allows me to still be able to exercise and teach all the classes that I love.

The double whammy for women as we age is that our body slows down AND then menopause hits. Talk about a rip-off!

As a female over 50, keeping up your activity level is very important. And while you may have to approach it in a different way, you can still approach it, right?

Being active could ward off the doctor, which is a great benefit. It can reduce stress, another wonderful benefit. Controlling weight, blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes — to name just a few — are all very valid reasons to look forward, not back, when planning what you can do as you age.  

There are still many things we can all do as we age to stay active: swimming, yoga, biking and lifting weights, to name a few. Weight-bearing exercises are important for bone density and strength, so we can remain independent and functional.

Excuses and an inactive lifestyle will have no benefit to your future health. Ask your friends what they are doing to stay fit. Being fit after 50 can be a super social event. And you can be sure your friends are probably dealing with the same aches and pains that you are.

Focusing on what we are still able to do is a better way to overcome the obstacles that we face as we get older. If you are discouraged by the things you are unable to do, think of it this way: For the last phase of our lives, we can go into it focusing on the negative, or we can go in like it’s a battle. A battle for our future health.

Even the small changes we make can improve your health in ways you might not be able to see — changes that show up on a test at the doctor, or a blood pressure machine or even the scale. Or, more importantly, the way we feel about ourselves. Get going for your health’s future.

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer. She is fitness director for the YMCA of Calhoun County. Her fitness column appears the third Sunday of each month.