A couple of weeks ago, I shared this space with Richard Wallace. He closed with “this doesn’t ever get any easier.” He was talking about exercise and the pursuit of good health.

This week, a gym member stopped me and told me that she enjoyed what Richard wrote but then also asked “does anything ever get any easier?” I took her question in a broader sense than maybe she intended it but it was an interesting question. I suppose she was looking to this senior citizen (me) for wisdom and insight.

Certainly, exercising doesn’t get any easier. The body just doesn’t want to move like it used to. I think…no, I’m sure…that we take basic movement for granted.

I love to watch athletes move. There was a soccer player around here several years ago that I loved to watch run. She had a grace about her movement that just fascinated me.

I love to watch the coordination of a team as they execute. To me, the offensive side of football is a well choreographed display of movement. In a pace line on a bicycle, I am totally enamored of the sight as the line of cyclists seem to move together as one unit. Same thing watching rowing.

I’m reminded of the loss of that grace as you age whenever I go hiking. I’m not nearly as graceful rock hopping across a stream as I used to be. Thank goodness for trekking poles.

Balance certainly isn’t easier. Or better. It deteriorates significantly as we age.

I sometimes watch kids on a balance beam and am amazed at how they move. Not only would I likely fall but I would probably break something, too.

I don’t think that our work gets any easier. At least it shouldn’t. I see far too many “experienced” people that think that they figured out the best way to do their job years ago. They still want to do it like they used to. “We’ve always done it that way” is a phrase that I detest.

If we are truly dedicated to be the best at what we do, we have to continue to work at it. And then we have to sometimes overcome the prejudices that those years of experience give us. What we can fail to realize is that technology has changed our world and if we haven’t kept up, we’ll be left behind.

Getting up in the morning? Not any easier. Sleeping through the night? Impossible as you age.

I played basketball regularly until I was 59. I was able to stay pretty competitive because I had a decent jump shot and those thousands of hours on a basketball court had provided me with skills that gave me some compensation for the loss of physical ability. But it never got any easier. But back to the original question. “Does anything ever get any easier?” Yes, decisions get easier.

As you get older, you don’t have the need to impress people as much. You hopefully have figured who you are and are comfortable in your own skin. Life experiences have given you a foundation where you should be able to make better decisions. Every time. You’re not so much in competition with others so it is easier to make the right decision.

You know what is right and wrong because you’ve made every mistake in the book. And the older we get, the less “life in prison” is a deterrent.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email joeblackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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