“It is never too late to be what you could have been.” George Eliot
What if these words were true? There is so much in the news these days about the aging of the population but what is so sad is that most of the focus is on the physical limitations of later life and becoming less of what you used to be. What if the point of extended life is becoming more than you’ve ever been before? How would that change society’s and your own personal views on aging?
Yes, the physical body will decline with age but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t benefit from exercise. In fact, it is never too late to start.
The new research on aging is discovering that even people in their nineties can benefit in both strength and daily functioning from exercise. Researchers also found that even moderate exercise – like bowling, golf, light sports, gardening and walking – proved to be nearly as beneficial as more vigorous activities.
Exercise can have powerful effects on the health of older people. Fitness boosts strength, it improves mood and has a positive impact on other health risks. The key is not your age or the physical shape you’re in, but getting started and including exercise in your life on a regular basis.
There is also no evidence that your spiritual or mental or creative abilities have to decline as you grow older. You can reap the same benefits of exercise in the form of stimulation in these areas in your life. Typically the later years open up some time and space that can be used to pursue all sorts of activities that you may not have had time for previously.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to get involved in politics – or you’d like to learn to paint or sculpt, or play the piano, or devote time to writing. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer for a cause that is important to you, or explore your spiritual development. Again, the key is to start, and to look for ways to include your mental, creative and spiritual interests in your daily life.
Why not start thinking of aging as offering you new freedom – freedom to stretch your mind and spirit, freedom to be playful and adventurous, freedom to create and explore – as many of life’s responsibilities (work, family, etc.) become less important. Think of this freedom as allowing you to try things you didn’t have time for, or didn’t allow yourself to try, when you were younger and so busy and involved.
Remember, the only thing holding you back from becoming who you wanted to be, or doing what you always wanted to do, or becoming more than you ever thought possible is you and your own views about aging.
Sue Ronnenkamp is a nationally recognized expert in the area of later life, transitional moves. She is the founder and owner of Living Transitions , an Austin, Texas-based business that provides “hands on” help to older adults making downsizing moves. Sue also provides educational programs and resources including her book, Living Transitions: A Step-by-Step Guide for Making a Later Life Move, a long list of articles, popular presentations that shed a positive light and perspective on this topic.
For more information, check out Sue’s web site at Living Transitions or call Sue at (512) 407-8488.
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