The word is out that we live in a very youth oriented society. That may well be true when it comes to fashion and many other things but it is not true when it comes to exercise. Thankfully there are hundreds (thousands actually) of examples of people who are continuing to exercise into their 80’s, 90’s and beyond. They realize that they do not have to spar with a punching dummy every day or grab a gym bag and head to a sports facility in order to make exercise a part of their lives. They just find something physical that they enjoy and do it. They swear that it keeps their spirits young and is good for their bodies too.
An amazing Indian man named Fauja Singh recently completed what he says will be his last marathon even though he will continue to run “on his own” daily. There are some amazing statistics about this man. He didn’t even start walking until he was five years old because of weakness in his legs. Currently, Singh is 102 years young. He didn’t start competing in marathons until after his 89th birthday and did so as a way to combat the depression that engulfed him following the death of his beloved wife and one of his sons. He runs daily. Can you imagine someone his age running daily when many people twenty and thirty years his junior are vegging on their sofas being entertained by mindless television with their only exercise getting up for food or to go to the restroom. Singh doesn’t claim any “secret” or magic formula for his commitment to exercise. He claims that it was what “brought him back to life” and allowed him to reconnect with the business of living after so much sadness and turmoil had darkened his days. He credits running with saving his life and gives the following advise to anyone who cares to hear it. “Laughter and happiness is what life should be about, that’s your remedy for everything”. He shows wisdom even beyond his numerous years – you just have to love that man.
Singh provides an example that more of us should follow. Some estimates put the number of people between the ages of 65 and 74 who do not exercise as 3 out of 4. That is an alarming and sad statistic especially since it has been proven that exercise is exactly what is needed to ward off many of the problems that come about with aging. While there seems to be a rather pervasive attitude of “being too old, or too tired or too sick” to exercise by many seniors, it should be included in the lives of nearly all of us regardless of age. Chhandra Dutta PhD. Who serves as the Chief of Clinical Gerontology Branch of the National Institute On Aging advises seniors to exercise as a way to prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination, lift your spirits, boost your memory, and ease symptoms of many chronic conditions. These are improvements almost anybody would like to see.
What, then is keeping older people from making exercise a part of their daily lives? For many it may be because they have never found it to be an important part of life for them even when they were younger and feel that it’s useless to try to incorporate it now. The facts, however, do not support that thinking. We see evidence that it is never too late to begin an exercise routine. Start slowly. Find something that feels right for you or that interests you and set a date to begin – the sooner the better. Like Fauja Singh, you may find that it will give you a completely new lease on life.