Have you given in to getting old? Does getting up from a chair or sitting down involve an effort—enough so that you actually think about whether the effort is worth it? If so, it’s time to get younger.
Two facts: 1. It’s been scientifically proven in hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that many of the stereotyped ‘symptoms’ of old age aren’t, in fact, caused by age. They’re caused by atrophy, or lack of use. 2. Youth is energy. This is an absolute truth, a cold equation. When young, the body takes care of itself and the MIND must be continually worked on. By the time of mid-life, the mind can take care of itself, but the BODY must be continually worked on.
When the human body has everything it needs for energy, movement is easy. It doesn’t require a second thought. But as we get older, our systems no longer produce or react as vibrantly as they used to. This is true of every part of our system, whether it’s a hormone such as testosterone or the essential protein glue of collagen. Everything declines.
As a result, movement is no longer so easy. It begins to require effort. But here’s the important part: if the body is continually trained, it will be able to keep moving easily, despite the increased effort of doing so.
As you get older it will take more and more physical work to move. But if you keep conditioning your body to be able to handle that work, you’ll be able to use your entire body; limbs, fingers and feet, spinal column and neck. Once you reach mid-life, frequent moving around is more important than an hour or so of aerobics or resistance several times a week.
Movement is also a massive anti-atrophy stimulus. Major joints such as elbows and knees produce synovial fluid, a lubricating substance that prevents wearing away of the cartilage and also acts as a shock absorber, protecting the joint. A synovial joint is stimulated to produce the substance when the joint is moved for a period of time.
Another accepted part of aging is loss of balance. Again, much of that is atrophy. The sense of balance only keeps its chops when stimulated by a moving body. If the inner ear that controls the sense of balance never gets moved into different ranges of motion, it will atrophy. The same is true of muscles. If they don’t move, they’ll atrophy. But the resulting weakness is almost always blamed on age.
One big key to being able to move easily as you age is what I call the ‘Top Of the Hour Stimulus.’ You can make it the top of the hour, ten minutes after, or any starting minute you wish. But once an hour, on the hour, you get up from where you’re sitting and walk at least 50 feet. If you’re stiff from sitting, walk it off before sitting again.
If you want a quick and functional movement workout, place your feet on the floor a little behind your knees, stand up, then sit down again. Next, while seated, reach down and forward with your arms, stretching out your fingertips in a line slightly in front of your head. If you’re doing this as part of your hourly workout, once is sufficient. If you’re doing it as a daily workout, do each exercise four or five times.
Yes, the stiff halting movement of the elderly will eventually come to us all, if we live long enough. However, we can keep youthfulness in our movement for an amazingly long time if we just make the moves.