“Aging” is the cool thing. And I couldn’t be happier!
I read Helen Dennis’ column, “Successful Aging,” every Sunday in the Daily Breeze. I’m thrilled that she discusses topics relevant to today’s thriving Baby Boomers and seniors. No more languishing unsung in the corner for this demographic; we’re about to start getting the respect and attention we deserve!
The topic of aging is dear to me for two reasons. The first is that I find myself advancing past middle age in a sea of media that’s geared toward twenty and thirty somethings. But ours is an age group that’s vital and worthy! It is about time that we are invited to the party.
Second, I have a bit of an odd family history: We either die in our forties or, like my mother, live well into our 90’s. Since I’m approaching my 64th birthday and am quite NOT dead, it seems I’m following in my mother’s footsteps toward longevity.
So, I have chosen to age with grace.
And I’m not alone. There’s a whole generation of people who want to learn how to be mindful and take charge as they learn how to manage stress, tension, and pain. That’s why I teach people how to explore what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. That means showing people how to undo the habits that are undoing them. Exercise for fun and fitness, but, as Moshe Feldenkrais said,
“If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want.”
The recent Daily Breeze column asked, “Should older adults join fitness centers?” The author urged us to “listen to our bodies.” Good advice indeed, but to me it came up a bit short. Just HOW do we listen to our bodies? If something hurts, do we just quit? If we get tired, do we just quit? Unfortunately, that might find a fair few of us taking up residence on the sofa. We might listen, but how can we change what is happening. First, we must know what is happening.
So, a few tips:
If you are using a piece of equipment, or doing a particular exercise and you hurt, don’t just stop, and definitely don’t “muscle through it.” This is no time to be a martyr. If you feel an exercise gives you pain, examine what you are doing. HOW are you doing it? Often, you can figure out another way to do it, which will keep you active and engaged.
If you get tired, take mini rests throughout your workout. In strength training, there’s no benefit to exercising until you drop. Just forget that whole “no pain, no gain” thing. You could actually end up tearing muscle fibers rather than building them! Slow and steady is the key here. These rests might just help your brain catch up to your muscles. Rest BEFORE you fatigue.
Know what muscle groups are important for basic functions like walking, reaching, twisting, and lifting. For example, how many people know the importance of the muscles on the back the the thigh, the gluteal and hamstring muscles for upright walking? This is where I, a Feldenkrais Practitioner® can really help; you can experience how the body works, allowing you to SAFELY build muscle while protecting joints and ligaments and connecting all of this to your brain so that you will continue to function easily.
I go to a gym and I watch as seniors come in. Most walk while looking at the floor, afraid of falling. I teach my senior clients how to feel themselves on their feet and how to be in gravity; how to feel at ease being upright. Strength training and stretching won’t improve function.
Starting this spring, I’ll be teaching a “Change As You Age®” workshop that will begin as 5 two-hour segments twice a month. We’ll explore habits, how to spot them and how to change them. Participants will gain an understanding of how our minds and bodies work together to feel and function better.
Our joints don’t have to wear out before we do!
You can maintain your active life style!
Here’s to getting better, healthier and aging with grace.
Best of health,