I couldn’t help but overhear during a ladies exercise group we run, two of my lovely regular clients discussing a live show they recently attended when one said to the other, “oh yes but I can’t stand how hard it is to find parking”, to which the other replied “suit yourself but I absolutely love Dolly Parton!” Those who heard the exchange couldn’t help but snigger a little - one lady laughed so hard she ended up hurting herself a little.
These sorts of stereotypes for aging persist; senses diminishing, physical tasks getting harder. If I had a dollar for every time someone explained their pain to me as ‘old age’ I could probably buy the bank. Feeling old is something many talk about, but you might be surprised to find older age doesn’t necessarily have to hurt and it’s something you yourself can do something about.
Whilst your hearing and your eyesight may inevitably disappoint you, your muscles and bones are always adapting. Your bones constantly undergo what’s called a ‘remodeling’ cycle, laying down bone wherever your body decides you need it. It’s for this reason that we can increase our bone mass with appropriate an appropriate strategy. Our muscles do change a little as we age. Firstly we get a change in our muscle make-up which means they’re not as ‘elastic’ as they used to be. Secondly, there is a tendency for our muscles to steadily lose size and so as the saying goes “if you don’t use it, you lose it”. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a little story about a lady named Harriette Thompson.
At the youthful age of 70 years, Harriette took up running. Now it’s not unusual for one to take up new hobbies in older age but this was a little odd. Not just any kind of running, but marathons. And after 22 years of running she set the record for the oldest woman to ever complete a marathon, aged 92 years and 93 days old. 18 months later she set the record for the oldest woman to complete a half marathon, aged 94 years. The cancer survivor, great grandmother and concert pianist said when asked how it felt “oh I feel just like I did when I was 16, I just can’t move as fast”.
So, whilst you might not want to run 42km, your body is capable of amazing things if only you would let it. Getting up off the ground, staying in the garden, playing with your grandchildren or getting the shopping done without gasping for air – all of these things that people often struggle with are all able to be dealt with with just a little help.