The French have a wishful saying: "If only the young could know; if only the old could do."
Well, the young, if they live long enough, eventually get to know, but what about the old? Visit with the oldsters and you'll find an amazing truth waiting for you: Aging is relative.
Why can a British man make the news for becoming the first 100-year-old to complete a marathon while others far younger can't cross a room without a walker or wheelchair?
An article in a Copper Nugget from decades ago, its page yellowing but its print still sharp, suggests there are ways for the young to know (for future use) and the old to do (before it's too late). In a heading that says, "Don't just sit there, do something!" it mentions that a sedentary lifestyle is as hazardous to your health as excessive smoking, eating or drinking.
It seems that a lack of adequate exercise age brings on the threat of losing strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. Inactivity has also been tied to many of the debilitating health conditions associated with aging.
In fact, The National Institute on Aging warns that seniors hurt their health far more by not exercising than by overexercising.
So here's the good news: Today it's easier than ever for oldsters to get up and go, even if they've never been active before. The plan is to start slowly, searching out activities that you find at least a little enjoyable. Here are some ideas on ways to increase some healthy activities:
- If you like shopping, walk brisk laps inside the mall or any other place with long open walkways, where one can get good exercise while being amused by observing people and doing window shopping.
- Like pets? Adopt a dog from animal rescue, and not only will you save a life, but you'll also have a great walking companion - inside or out. By the way, older dogs are easier to handle, more docile.
- Rediscover old hobbies: caning chairs, painting furniture or low walls and shelves, returning to golf or tennis; you'll love it again if you give it a chance.
- Playing with children keeps you young at heart. Chasing a toddler around is good exercise, better than exercising at a gym. Help out at community centers for kids.
- Housework is a good way to get some exercise and spruce up your place at the same time. Stay away from dryers and other household appliances that guarantee less work and a more sedentary life. Scrub the floor on your knees (if you can do it); wash woodwork by hand.
- Learn the polka, the most strenuous dance in existence!
- Don't stay on the sidewalks; walk through woods, on cobblestones or other rough terrain - make a game of it and you'll find you retain your balance far easier. But do it carefully, watching out for snagging underbrush.
You get the idea. Don't just sit there, do something! Make a habit of finding ways to move around, to move your body, to keep active - and gradually you'll find that the results will eliminate those irritating little aches and pains that otherwise nag and make you feel older. Don't give in to them and don't just envy those who are springier than you.
Sure, it takes effort to break down old-age habits and it takes effort to get up and go when your attitude feels more like don't - but overcoming it to make even the slightest activities routine - well, the results are worth it.
Health gurus say one other thing: Combine your newly active life with an adjustment on your diet. Start enjoying foods that are good for you, and by eating only adequate amounts, the results in good health will prove worth it. You are, after all, what you eat!
Rotten Tomatoes averages: "Tower Heist," B; "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," D+
Note: Another fine Nordic film at the Finnish American Heritage Center today at 2 and 6 p.m.