This Article is About
staying in shape
natural aging process
tolerance level
flat tire
middle age
Getting And Staying In Shape For The Over 50
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At last you have admitted that recently, the “going” has been getting slower with you. Changing a flat tire has left you sore and aching all over! Walking at any pace (except dead slow!) up the stairs -clutching at the rails!- is becoming more of a challenge and more often than not, has left you out of breath .Your tolerance level for even the slightest “setback” has dropped dangerously low and you just might “blow up” at any moment. You sweat profusely if your walk has to be hurried. A little “rotundity” has begun to show up, and while, in the early stages, this was smilingly (and acceptably!) described as the “middle age spread” (excusable and tolerable! ), it seems lately to be giving rise to more of an embarrassment as people give you a “second look” which is directed more towards your middle than your upper body.

You tell yourself that this “slowing up” can be put down to the natural aging process (the body does deteriorate with age!), but you are becoming scared because it is happening so quickly–almost noticeable so, from day to day! At this rate, what will happen by the time you are 60? Yes, we all DO “slow up” with age but the process, is much more marked if you are not in a state of “wellness”, that is, if you are not fit and healthy!

No, you cannot STOP the process, but you sure can SLOW the process of “slowing up” (although “slowing down” would be a more apt descriptive term!) depending on the kind of ‘shape” your body is in, and on the level of fitness at which you have been maintaining it – and you know that this “maintenance” has been very small (if not a complete zero!), or this would not be happening to you. In fact, your car has been getting a much higher level of “maintenance” attention! Better give at least equal treatment to your body which is far more delicate, infinitely more complicated and which becomes increasingly vulnerable with age!

What do you do?

You now accept the fact that something should be done about this. The question however is what? Simply reading about it in fitness and health articles is not going to help the condition much. Do you join one of the many “fitness clubs” that you cant help but notice have been “springing into being” on several streets near you, about which your friends talk with passion and fondness, and, to which they seem to be dedicating a relatively great deal of their time? Many of these health clubs however seem to be very expensive,and, at any rate, you don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of your friends (you are bound to meet at least one whatever club you join!) who are well into their “fitness” and “health” programs.

You don’t want at your age to be “pumping iron” (you are not trying to build a super muscular body!) and you are unwilling to suffer the “pain” for the “gain”. Apart from the cost, your house is too small to accommodate the huge pieces of equipment (treadmills, exercise machines, etc), you see advertised for “home gyms”. Diet pills and “diet meals” leave you hungry and dissatisfied You want something more natural than is offered by most of these “fitness equipment” – something more related to your body itself. So you decide on running. GOOD CHOICE for becoming fit and healthy and for reasons which will later become clear – and for experiencing the feeling of wellness! I have been doing just that for years (my friends have calculated that I have run around the world (equator) about two and a half times!) and have maintained a very high level of fitness and health (no medication of any sort and my doctor I see more often socially than for professional reasons!).

When do you do it?

You don’t want to wait for circumstances to arise which will intervene or weaken your resolve. (I must point out that the REAL resolve is not coming at this moment of decision, but that it will be needed much more so when you are actually engaged in the activity – and LIKING YOUR QWN CHOICE will help significantly!). When? So now! No better time better than the present! But not so fast my friend. You have not being continuously engaged in any sort of high level physical activity and much less running for any great distance. – so hey! – some caution (restraint?) is called for. You have hit 50+ and there are some basic requirements which become increasingly more important as you get older and become less fit. You don’t want to wreck everything (including your body for that matter!) before you even do any running out there on the track!

How do you do it?

Although for everyone, the initial conditions vary, there are some general basic guidelines-some “hows”-which you would do well to observe, before getting “on the road”. These are:

* Check with your doctor to determine if there is any medical condition which might prevent you from this undertaking. Failure to ascertain your medical condition can sometimes lead precipitously to the undertaker.

* Set aside a particular time to go running. This is important. It must become a “routine” event or you will soon abandon the venture.

* Get the proper attire/outfit (shorts, T-shirts, sweat suit, etc.) which fits you and suits the climate.

* Shop thoroughly for a pair of running shoes with which you are very comfortable. Your footwear is critical. If not comfortable, it can cause serious harm and at least might lead to blistering of your feet.

* Choose a running surface that is not too hard (and can do great damage to joints and calf/leg muscles), or too soft (in which case you can easily lose traction, twist your ankles and even precipitate a fall).

* Obtain a container (plastic bottle, pouch, etc) in which you will carry water (preferably) or other liquids for drinking purpose –especially important in hot weather or if you sweat a lot.

* There are some miscellaneous items e.g. Walkman like equipment, etc., which are not essential but which people say “lightens the journey”.

What next on the road?

So you have started to run or jog, but there are so many questions (the next?) that are not answered at this point. How often (number of times each week) should you go running? Should you persist if there is much stiffness and soreness or should you stop running totally until the pain eases? Should you do “warm up” (stretching?) exercises before launching into your running stride? If so, which exercises are best? How fast should you go? Should you keep to one pace or should you vary your pace? Should you try to keep up with others? What distance should you run? Is there a minimum/maximum time that you should spend on the track? How are you going to determine your progress? Is it by how fast you are able to run or the distance you manage to run? What about breathing? How important is it and how should you do it? etc., etc.- and the questions go on.

Is this leaving you insecure? That there are so many questions in itself however provides an explanation. There are no firm answers to any of these questions. The answers depend on the individual, the goals you set yourselfand on particular circumstances, and since these differ for everyone, the answers will differ for everyone. So it is very difficult to say what you must do. However, there are some things which most consider to be “best practices” and these will be discussed at the appropriate place. However there are some things which everyone, as much as possible, should avoid doing. The most important are:

* When you are just starting your exercise program, do not run yourself to the point of exhaustion where you feel you have to sit down. Stop before that point-and just keep walking!

* If you feel any significant discomfort at all while running (and especially if you are and elderly person) and you) while exercising, stop immediately and consult your physician as soon as possible. Please note that it is normal for you to experience some muscle soreness, pains in your joints, etc., but extreme tightness of the chest or sharp pain in your arm or shoulders, must not be ignored.

* There is also the matter of rest and proper dieting, particularly if you take on a “heavy” routine. These play important roles on the way to fitness and health and will be discussed in later articles.

Are you getting in shape?

Are you becoming fit and healthy? Is your body in better shape? Anytime you begin to ask this question, it means that THE WORST IS OVER for you! You will have passed through periods of “extreme” physical discomfort, self doubt, rededication of resolve, the exercise of self discipline, personal sacrifice, etc., but from this point the feeling of wellness begins. It does not have a fixed definable limit, but progresses from stage to stage, each one being “higher” and more euphoric than the previous – perhaps unto the realization of the quintessence of life and BEING. There are plateaux along the way which we reach, and therefore where we end and say we are physically fit and are “experiencing” the feeling of wellness, depends on the level at which we set our goal for wellness.

The experience at each level is a personal one and differs for individuals. I will share with you in another article some of my own experiences, and the experience of others, as we have made our way through this veil that enshrouds physical life but allows a passage to health and wellbeing .And remember that “wellness” is not confined only to the “physical” world, but entails strong elements of both the “mental” and “spiritual” worlds!

Street Talk

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