How many times have you heard someone say “I’m too old to…” or how many times have you had this thought yourself? And if we are honest with ourselves does your inability to…perhaps play with your grandchildren on the floor or my inability to skateboard for example, have anything to do with your age or my age as I approach 50? For me personally, is it more a consequence that I’ve never learned this skill(true), I’m afraid of falling(true), and I am out of shape(perhaps also true)? If I had the desire to learn a new skill physical or otherwise, I should be able to learn it on some level regardless of my age. I may require a skilled coach and invest some time at the gym building some muscles and improving my balance, but I should be able to learn to skateboard should I have the desire. After all, I’m not aspiring to be Tony Hawke, but skateboarding down the road alongside my boys would be a great achievement in my eyes.
The scientific definition of aging is “the sum of all the mechanisms that alter the functions of a living thing, prevents it from maintaining physiological balance and eventually leads to the death of said organism. In the human body and most other living things, the process is complex, gradual and depends on many biological factors. This natural process can be amplified by external factors throughout a lifetime (pollution, food, smoking…)”(Cavallasca,2017) What a negative view of aging! Why is there no mention of increased wisdom, strength of character, and improved confidence that is often noted to go along with growing older….hmmmm.
Aging occurs more or less quickly based on a number of factors. Our bodies become less efficient and effective at DNA repair, our telomeres shorten, impact of our environment, protein malfunction, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, cell senescence, and stem cell exhaustion.( Cavallasca,2017)Now that is a lot of contributory science that is beyond the scope of my current knowledge base and indeed of this blog! But another important factor is indeed whether he have pessimistic beliefs about aging or positive beliefs about aging. (Fan, May 2007) Among many scientific papers on the subject, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, having over 8500 participants, found that negative beliefs about ageing were associated with both declining mental and physical function. (TILDA publication papers)
How many examples of people do you know who are aging well?
Have you heard about Harriette Thompson who completed her 15th marathon at age 91 and she ran her first marathon at age 76! Or,how about Jacinto Bonilla—a 73-year-old Brooklynite, who participates in CrossFit, which he started 6 years ago. How about 88 year old Germany native, Johanna Quaas, who is the oldest active gymnast in the world. Quaas was born in 1925. In 2012, she earned her name into The Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest gymnast in the world. The grandmother and mother of three, has been married to Gerhard Quaas, a gymnastics coach, for more than 50 years. Then there’s Nola Ochs, who at age 95 earned her college degree. Ochs became the oldest person on record to graduate from college when she received her diploma from Fort Hays State University alongside her granddaughter. She began pursuing a degree at age 65 (when FHSU was still known as Kansas State College) after her husband passed away. Thirty years later, through a combination of online and in-person classes, Ochs reached her goal and crossed the stage to receive her college diploma. What about Fred Mack, who celebrated his 100th birthday by skydiving for the second time! Mack’s first skydiving experience occurred at the age of 95. (Coxwell,2014)
These are just a few of many “aged” individuals to say the least! While their level of tenacity and joie de vivre isn’t what typically comes to most of our minds when we think of being in our elder years, why isn’t it?? Wouldn’t we rather be having fun living to our fullest potential than sitting around and watching the world pass us by?
So what do you wish to be doing? What have you always dreamed of, or wanted to do or try? What is stopping you? If your fitness levels or your perceptions are holding you back, we can help! The aging body responds to exercise in the same way our younger bodies do. You can become more flexible, stronger, bigger muscles, better balance and confidence, better posture etc. You need only desire, an open mind and elbow grease! Let’s age well together!
~ Lisa, Physiotherapist
Beliefs about aging and later life health and well-being among the elderly in Taiwan, T.D. Fan, May 2007, University of Texas Libraries.
Age is Only a Number; Amazing Accomplishments by 70, 80 and 90 Year Olds, June 25, 2014 by Kathleen Coxwell
Aging 101: Biological causes of aging, By Julie Cavallasca,10 January 2017