I meet a few friends every week for lunch or coffee to see how everyone is doing. We are all retired and like the idea that we are still active and have a “to do list” to keep us busy. The only difference is that there is no time limit for making the “to do list”. We always have tomorrow. There are conversations that recall some of the activities we did in our youth. Some of the activities came back to remind you that the joint or muscle you injured when you were young still hurts today. Not as bad as when we first hurt ourselves, but a little soreness here and there – especially early in the morning when we wake up.
We sometimes wonder if now that you know the end result of these activities that we have participated in and perhaps put a stress on the body, would we change anything. I have yet to hear any of these seniors want to change anything they did growing up. Some of the activities were downright silly and presented possible danger. Jumping from the roofs of buildings, swinging from tree branches, contests to see who could jump the farthest from a high swing, be a daredevil on a bike and jump ramps, and play football without pads or helmets to to name just a few.
Many seniors practiced a variety of sports or activities. The practice of specializing in a sport was not yet a popular practice. Looking at the activities I’ve played, it’s a long list. I’ve never been outstanding in any sport other than weightlifting, but I’ve tried any activity. Baseball, softball, football, track and field, basketball, tennis, wrestling, gymnastics, scuba diving, springboard, swimming, racquetball, golf, handball, bodybuilding, l weightlifting, powerlifting, boxing, judo and marathon are all on the list. Have I suffered any injuries while doing all of these activities? Of course I did. Falling from a high bar in gymnastics, playing football without a face mask or padding in the helmet, collapsing on your stomach learning a new dive, being dragged into the mat headfirst in wrestling, and learning to hit the mat without getting hurt after being thrown into it judo is all on the list.
At lunch this week I was talking to an old friend and he mentioned a new perspective of being active in all of these activities. Maybe it’s because our group was so active and did so many activities and sports that’s why we can still move quite well at this advanced age. I have two T-shirts with fitness logos on them. The first is: “We don’t stop playing because we got old, we got old because we stopped playing. The other logo is: “If we don’t take care of our bodies, where will we live?” When the subject returns to when you stopped being active, we were all in our 60s or 60s before giving up certain sports. Walking seems to be the most popular activity right now. Weightlifting is done with lighter weights and often the resistance is a bag of raked leaves or chopped firewood. Bike rides are now in the neighborhood instead of going out on county roads. Bathe in a swimming pool where the temperature of the water is warmer than that of the river. The activity is still there, but tweaks have been made to accommodate less force, slower reactions, and a much wiser sense of knowing that some activities aren’t meant for older bodies. More football tackling and more pickle ball.
I always help out with a lot of road races here in San Marcos and one thing I notice is the number of entrants of runners in the 50 and 60+ age groups. There are some outstanding senior runners who can still run a fast time in a 5k race. These runners never stopped long enough to let old age slow them down. It’s good to see how many women in the upper age brackets are still active in road racing. Some run the distance, but most of them still run for an age group prize.
The age groups that seem to have the fewest runners are the youngest. Maybe they are active in other sports, but it seems that too many of them enjoy video games. It pays to be physically active as you age rather than finding out that you have to start being active to improve your health when you’re older. The old habit of slowing down when you turn 40 no longer holds true if you stay active from that young age into older ages. Maybe after 70 you can start to slow down.