I’m hearing it more frequently. “You look good for a man your age.” Or “You sure are active for a man your age.”
Not too long ago, I might have taken a tiny bit of offense at that. Not anymore. I now accept it for the compliment it was intended to be.
But then just this week, I picked up a men’s magazine and on the cover in big, bold print was “Staying Healthy and Active as You Get Older.” The problem is, it offered articles for men in their 30s, in their 40s and in their 50s.
What? Does the pursuit of good health and an active lifestyle stop for men when they reach their 60s? It sure seems like it does. Now I realize I am not in the demographic for this magazine. By this set of articles alone, I’m pretty sure it is intended for men in their 20s and 30s. They didn’t so much as say that but it sure seemed clear to me.
And I’m alright with that. There are lots of magazines focused on older men. Like ... or … maybe …oh well, I guess they don’t exist. I guess when you get into your 60s and 70s — a decade that is staring me in the face right now — you’re supposed to be inactive and unhealthy.
Then today, a colleague who happens to run ultra-marathons was told by a health care provider that she was too old to run — that she really needed to quit thinking of herself as an athlete. Oh, and she’s 35.
Are you kidding me? I hardly even remember 35. I certainly thought of myself as an athlete at 35. I remember that my kids were into everything, and I was right there with them.
But I’m not going to list the things that I was into in my 30s and 40s and beyond. To do so would be either bragging or complaining. But I will tell you that I played basketball until I was 59. And unless this is the first time you’ve read my column, you know I ride bikes. A lot. And I’m 66.
What’s a guy to do? Where do active, older adults go to for advice? It was at that moment that I realized that maybe that was something that I need to write about. I’m in that demographic. I pursue good health and an active lifestyle with a vengeance. I know what it’s like to be in my seventh decade and still out there doing stuff, having fun. So I’m going to write about what it takes to be healthy and active in your 60s, 70s and 80s.
In your 60s, your joints are starting to fall apart. More and more people are getting hip and knee replacements than ever before. That doesn’t mean that you need to take it easy — quite the contrary. Getting healthy joint replacements means you can do things that you maybe haven’t done for a while.
Your relationships are settled and your emotional health may be at its peak. People will constantly ask you when you’re going to retire but you don’t have to retire until you want to. You know who you are and you really get to be that person.
In your 70s, don’t let others decide what you’re going to do. Travel. Do all those things that you didn’t have time for when you were running the rat race. Lift weights. Unless you’ve worked hard at it, you’ve lost a fair amount of muscle mass. It’s more important now for you to do strength training than it was when you were in your 30s.
In your 80s, your balance is not as good as it once was. You need to do some simple things every day, like stand on one leg with your eyes closed. March up and down on a pillow (or other unstable surface). You need to stretch more. You need to exercise daily. Always wanted to paint or do woodwork? Now’s the time. Follow your passions and yes, even follow your dreams.
In your 90s? Enjoy everything. Enjoy every day, every moment. Do what you want to do? Heck yeah.
As for me, I’ve got a long bike trip planned for when I’m in my 90s. May even ride across the country.