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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

When you're too old to do...what?

May 30, 2023 10:08AM ● By David Wilkening

You can’t walk away from Father Time, but is it possible to grow too old to continue many physical activities? Is there really a time to quit, or is it all baloney? 

The issue came up for me recently during a chat with the neighbor while I was getting the mail. I had just returned from a bicycle ride, which was apparent by my red-color blinking hat and neon green shirt. After threshing over the often-expressed opinion that hoping for something positive to arrive via U.S. mail was totally delusional, my neighbor raised a couple of questions that were somewhat unusual and seemingly unrelated because they involved numbers. 

How far did I ride? And how old was I? 

“Five to 10 miles as usual. I’m 77,” I told her.

“Amazing. I’m 76 but I gave up riding two years ago. I read that it’s dangerous to keep doing it at our age,” she said.

That made me wonder: Is this a common belief? 

Age takes its toll, of course, but when is it time to stop lifetime physical activities like riding a bicycle?

My neighbor’s thoughts about exercise doing more harm than good is not an unfamiliar one. But most experts agree that as you age, sitting too much is a losing idea. And almost anyone at any age and with most health conditions can participate in some type of physical activity.

I am not a medical professional but I do have some suggestions of what type of physical activity we “old people” should incorporate into our routines. Here are my own dos and don’ts:

Do: Run. I considered it, but it’s not for me. 

Don’t: We all hear of those 80-year-olds who run marathons, but running is hard on your body.

Do: Walk. It’s always good for you. It can be done almost anywhere and can be started at any age. 

Don’t: Even my neighbor would agree it’s virtually impossible to overdo it or injure yourself walking unless you’re hiking some steep or uneven terrain.  

Do: Any type of intense workouts or weight lifting. 

Don’t: Avoid intense exercise. Instead, opt for lighter regular exercise such as swimming, aerobics or bicycling.

Do: Ride your bicycle. Yes, my own choice. It’s non-weight bearing and good for your cardiovascular health. The real danger is from motor vehicles. 

Don’t: Forget to install your red lights and flags so motorists can see you. 

Do: Aerobics regularly. 

Don’t: Expect me to join you. I tried it.

Do: At last, consider jumping. Just that exercise can help prevent broken bones, which is a common ailment as we age. Research on tennis players found they had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and live longer.

Don’t: Expect miracles.

All of this adds up to one cliché: use it or lose it. But don’t forget that sometimes the cliches get it right.

Leave age on the curb

Leave age on the curb!

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