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Aging Gracefully

Published on March 23, 2012 by in Fitness Tips

By Charley Avery, Medical Exercise Specialist

“If I could offer you one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists whereas the rest
of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.
I will dispense this advice now…”
Tom Waits

         Singer, songwriter and philosopher Tom Waits and I live parallel lives in that often times we find ourselves in the position to advice others on graceful aging. Between the two of us, we’ve covered all the bases. While Waits is gently reminding us to “keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements,” I’m admonishing at least sixty-four ounces of water daily. And while Waits calls to mind that we should “Dance… even if you have nowhere else to do so but in your own living room,” I’m advocating a thorough exercise program and sensible nutritional guidelines. To simplify the plethora of advice one receives on this quest for the fountain of youth, Waits and I will now attempt to expound upon our most profound tips for graceful aging…

In his song “Everyone’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” Waits humorously reminds us to “do one thing everyday that scares you.” I refer to this as stepping out of your comfort zone in that we tend to get stuck in an exercise routine which causes lack-luster results, a mundane, almost zombie-like existence in the gym and possibly even, abandonment. Instead, continually think out of the box! Try Zumba or Bikram, reverse your pedal direction on the elliptical machine, ask your Yoga instructor to teach you an inversion, sign up for a Gyrotonic session, do your bicep curls on a Bosu, or replace your desk chair with a Physio ball. And remember, there are seven components to general conditioning: strength, balance, cardio, flexibility, power, coordination and agility – all of which should be embraced.

Waits also mentions, “Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.” Trust us on this one and insure that you’re exercising with proper form, technique, alignment, rhythm and range of motion. There is one area whereby Waits and I beg to differ. He jokingly says, “Read the instructions even if you don’t follow them.” I encourage you to read the instructions and follow them emphatically with immense body awareness, precision and an uncanny ability to find the level of intensity that suits you best. Hire a professional to assist you in developing a safe, effective, custom workout program and if you’re concerned about the expense, simply cut back on dining out. In doing so you’ll cut calories as a bonus!

“Do not worry about the future,” Waits says… “Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.” This is a great reminder that tension is the number one aging factor and exercise is a key tool in stress reduction. Have you noticed that one never regrets completing a workout no matter what painstaking tenacity was employed to drag oneself to the gym? You arrive with the weight of the world on your shoulders, your trainer nonchalantly adds a 35 pound bar to that load and asks for 15 sumo squats. Low and behold, 20 minutes into the session, you and your endorphins are jumping for joy and your troubles are long forgotten! Add some quality sleep, a funny movie, some lean protein and a walk on the beach with your lab and voila… the perfect recipe for graceful aging.

Research has shown that those successful at maintaining strong, healthy relationships with friends and family live longer, higher quality lives with fewer medical setbacks. Waits suggests we “Remember compliments received; forget the insults, don’t waste time on jealousy or be reckless with other people’s hearts, and get to know your parents – you never know when they might be gone for good.” Relationships provide a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives that encourage us to channel energy toward caring better for ourselves inside and out.

As Waits kindly reminds us to “Floss, stretch, get plenty of calcium and do not read beauty magazines – they will only make you feel ugly,” we come to realize that our body really is a temple! And as confusing as it may seem due to the overwhelming amount of information one absorbs regarding health, it’s really quite simple. Drink lots of water, make good food choices, exercise regularly, rest adequately and be happy. Oh, and just one more thing… “Trust me on the sunscreen!”

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7 Comments  comments 

7 Responses

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