When I was a kid all grandparents wore the same uniform. Grandpas wore button-down shirts under their bibbed overalls over their fat bellies and Grandpa shoes. Grandmas wore house dresses over their ample forms, hose—usually rolled in garters to just below or above the knee, and black, lace-up, stack-heeled shoes. They all died when they were old—in their sixties. When I was in my late teens-early twenties, I decided that there was no way I would ever end up like that.
One day when I was in the bank cashing my check (I know, I’m really dating myself), the door opened to let in the late afternoon balmy sunny air. In walked six people wearing athletic shoes, blue jeans, and tee shirts. They were fit, laughing, and in their 50’s-60’s! They had arrived on motorcycles!! I said “That’s how I’m going to be when I grow up!”
So far I’ve kept my promise to myself. When I tell people my age or a little older that I intend to live to 102, be wearing my blue jeans and walking without aid, they all look at me as if I’m crazy. They don’t want to live past 80 because in their 60’s they are in pain—arthritis, back pain, bad knees, tears in joints. They don’t deter me. I have a master plan—work puzzles and word games and design and make crafty gifts to keep my mind working, play with happy people to keep my emotions in check, exercise almost every day—walk 2 miles in 40 minutes, play pickleball, 15 minutes of “floor exercises” including Yoga stretches, abdominal core exercises and lifting 5 lb weights, and eat lots of food I make myself full of antioxidants and vegetables to keep my body working.
This is a big order to begin with, but over a couple of weeks it becomes a habit. Soon I went from I don’t have time for all of this to I don’t feel good if I don’t do all of this. Every once in a while I get derailed by too many activities or illness, then I have to start at the “I just can’t do this any more” stage, but the more I do it the easier it is to get back on in the groove. I find that illnesses are fewer and farther between, and not as catastrophic as when I was younger and under a lot more stress.
It seems that I am on the right track. I read an article in AARP Magazine called “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. Their advice: Aerobic training, balance training, strength training, eating healthy foods (avoiding processed food, fast food, non-nutritional foods like white bread, pasta, and rice, boost your limbic (emotional) brain, the physical brain (survival), and the thinking brain (thoughts and words), through socialization. The authors even urge people with arthritis to keep moving. Dr. Lodge explains: “Strong muscle can help protect the joints. Most arthritis patient report about a 50 percent reduction in pain with several months of strength training.”
Why am I telling you all of this? I want to keep meeting all of you down the road in 20,30,40 years. I figure that if we all get started now, it’s doable. Besides that, I’m home (not playing pickleball or doing any other exercise) sick with an ear ache and don’t have anything better to write about!
Keep on moving!
Louise and Duane