Close your eyes for a few moments and picture someone in their eighties. Get a good picture of what they look like: their posture, how they move, the activities they do, how they feel. What is their quality of life? Got the picture? How does it look? Because, there is a good chance that is where you are headed! When I think of someone older, I picture them vibrant, fit, healthy, still doing a lot of the things they did when they were younger. And that is exactly what I am planning for.
Did you know that your body will adapt to the highest level of stress you put on it? If you sit on the coach a lot and your highest level of fitness is going to the pantry for some chips or to the refrigerator for a cold drink, well that is what your body will adapt to. On the other hand, if you go out and run several miles and/or are training for a marathon, that is exactly what you will adapt to too. I hear so many people say things like, oh I’m getting older I don’t do those things anymore. I have a couple of girlfriends from high school that are moms and they act like they are getting so old and don’t go out and do the physical activities like they once did. Last year we were in Hawaii and Nels and I were going out to play in the waves with our air mattresses and a boogie board. I invited my girlfriend to join us, and she wouldn’t do it, she said she’s getting too old. She’s not even forty! I however was out there playing in the waves, hollering and having a great time. Some guy commented to me I sounded like a 3 year old, but in a good way! Come to think of it when I was a kid, I remember my dad yelling at me at the beach to stop screaming when I was playing in the water. I guess not much has changed.
Nels and I are doing the Warrior Dash this weekend. It is a 3.4 mile run with 13 obstacles. The description on the web site reads: “Warrior dash is a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell. This fierce running series is held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and celebrate with kick-ass music, beer, and warrior helmets.” Now the music, beer and warrior helmets all sound fun, then there is the rest of it…hmmm. What are we thinking? Sounds like fun! Fire-leaping, no problem. We have successfully walked over hot coals more than once. Fierce, well that is what someone called me as a competitor in mounted shooting. Extreme obstacles? I’m picturing wipe out…looks like so much fun. Now the mud-crawling. That just sounds dirty, but hey, I hear they have showers to rinse off in.
So how do we train for it? For us, keep up the basic workouts we normally do. We already run 3 miles on a regular basis. We started including some 50 yard sprints again recently. And, we do lift weights, although we have cut back on the weights and focused more on the running. After googling more about the run, most commentary was that the obstacles were not that hard. And, we don’t want to be too sore from any heavy lifting before we go.
We don’t spend a lot of time exercising. Most weeks we work out 4-5 days a week. We mix it up with running, other cardio and weights. We also incorporate a little pilates, sometimes some yoga. Our work outs vary from 30 to 60 minutes on average. We also are active on our time off. We golf about once a week and ride our horses 3 to 4 times per week. The great thing about it is we are fit enough to do basic things like go for a hike, or enter this warrior dash, play in the waves, try surfing, or have the energy to start a conga line at 1am in the morning at Relay for Life in Laveen and follow it up with about an hour of dancing.
It is a life style choice. Both Nels and I have worked in hospitals. I also worked in a nursing home. People will say to us “I have to die of something” when you talk to them about being healthy. The problem is you don’t just get to die. You get to be ‘preserved’ first. We saw it all the time, and it doesn’t not look like fun. I would rather spend a little time now eating healthy, staying fit and having fun doing physical activities than trying to catch up later, and decrease my odds that I will be frail, weak and too sickly to do the things I enjoy. I know someone who is in her 70’s that still barrel races and she is very good! That’s what I plan to be doing. A lot of your age is all in your head. If you think your old and slowing down you will. I have been in clinics for mounted shooting with my horse that are physically challenging and it’s easier for me than the kids in there late teens and early twenties.
My suggestion: If you aren’t already doing some kind of physical activity that you like to do, find one you like. Then do exercise that is the same or similar to what you like to do to help you do better at it and reduce your risk of injury. Ideally exercise should include some cardio, weights and stretching. In the long run you have a much greater chance of being better off, and you can have fun and kick but along the way!