Fred Greenblatt — Today, in the 21st Century, countless studies, articles, and fitness experts all agree that aging does not have to be the automatic decline of health. It is a proven fact that all people, regardless of age, can still improve such things as muscle strength, agility, balance, bone mineral density, and reduce cognitive decline all through exercise and health supporting nutrition. Age is not a barrier to a happy, more enjoyable, and fulfilling life.
The American College of Sports Medicine said it best; from their studies they concluded that a program of ongoing exercise for adults, especially as they age, is truly one of the most effective medicines a person can take to enhance the quality of their life. Physical activity – exercise – will provide the recipient with greater strength, mobility, and longevity.
The College says there is no medicine more powerful or more important to an adult, or can improve more bodily functions than a regular program of exercise. Ignoring exercise is cheating yourself out of a higher quality of life.
Some people take the position that “some” exercise is better than nothing, and it surely is; but “some” usually still falls dramatically short of the real benefits of a regular ongoing exercise program.
Probably the principal myth of growing old, which must be dispelled, is the assumption that growing old is the automatic certainty of a weakening body and a forgetful mind, all ending in death. As it stands now, too many aging people see themselves becoming this archetypical persona of an old and frail person – a bumbling and stumbling old geezer. This perceived reality, although for many the historical norm exhibited by their parents and grandparents, today, does not have to be a reality.
The media and especially television and movies, continually tell us how exercise and nutritious foods are good for us. Although we are all aware of this reality, and we know we’re supposed to exercise our muscles to stay strong, but few follow this health supporting path. Whether it is due to laziness, ignorance, or indifference, the majority of adults continue to live in a sedentary and inactive manner.
The US Center for Disease Control estimates that over 75% of aging adults live in a sedentary way. This seemingly innocent way of life is in reality a person’s greatest nemesis. Inactive living precipitates more illness and injuries than any other single age-related causative factor. People live this way despite the frequent informative articles insisting that activity helps prevent many related ailments, from coronary artery disease to cognitive decline.
For many, the term fitness is possibly a misnomer and may cause confusion as most people think of fitness as a state of being for athletic endeavors. To help clarify this issue I will define what I have learned about fitness for adults.
For the younger adults, it is easy: being fit is about making a strong body stronger or a fast body faster. It can mean defining musculature – being ripped. Young people are concerned with the physical appearance of being fit and their enhanced physical endurance – probably to more successfully attract the opposite sex.
For adults, particularly those on the aging path, staying fit is very different issue. It is primarily about combating the effects of aging such as Sarcopenia – age-related muscle loss. It is about keeping your muscles strong, agile flexible and simply feeling good. Being fit, you can more easily stay active and have more fun until your very last days. For the older adult, being fit will also allow one to recover more quickly from any illness or injury we will surely encounter one day.
As a person grows older – and we all will – hopefully, we must remember, staying fit is the best possible thing a person can do for themselves. It is the one thing we can do, that does not cost much money and is guaranteed to enhance the quality of our life. The earlier a person focuses on fitness and the more able-bodied they will remain, the easier it will be to deal with the harsh reality of aging when it finally comes along. The more strength and ability a person retains, the greater the control they will have over their destiny, and the more positive their overall sense of well-being. I call it being prepared.
Feeling good is also a major influence on our attitudes. The better we feel, the happier we are with ourselves, and more relaxed and peaceful we become. Also, the better you feel, the better you will look and the greater your confidence and self-esteem. Regular physical activity is well known to help prevent depression, which is also common with aging. As we grow older, staying fit, will keep the doors to greater independence open longer and will add to a more fulfilled life.
It is important that early on, one should start to think about their golden years, for one day, they will be arriving at a place in their life that is the reward for their lifetime of efforts and responsibilities.
Everyone has earned the right to enjoy this time of life and do what they want to do – on their own terms. The more fit you stay during your adult years, the more options and choices you will have later. The earlier in life you develop a fitness plan, the more rewards you will experience as you grow old.
About the Author
Fred Greenblatt is a retired dentist living in Fountain Hills, Arizona. During a varied career he wrote professional books and articles and lectured nationwide. He has served on a number of Boards such as the Board of Dental Examiners and The Screen Actors Guild. He has also been a professional actor, sculptor, and an active sportsman. Today, he is living in the desert with his wife Nora, trying to grow old successfully and writing about life’s experiences and the aging process. He is accessible on Facebook. Email contact: DrfredG@aol.com