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Physically Fit Doesn’t Stop at Fifty

Filed Under: Men's Health at 9:41 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
GrandfatherIn high school, I often maintained that at a certain age (it varied with my mood) I would throw in the towel. No more exercise; no more junk-food avoidance. I would let myself go. I would be, after all, old. To my teenage mind, there was no sense in staying fit when one foot was all but in the grave anyway. I have since altered my point of view. I would rather not spend my final years in the hospital, fighting off the diseases that inactivity and overindulgence could produce. I would rather, in forty or so years, be much like today’s seniors: active, healthy and surprising everyone younger than them.

The baby boomers may have received their AARP cards but that doesn’t mean they’re calling it quits.  They are going to the gym, hiring personal trainers, staying physically fit and, apparently, having sex.  In a recent study, researchers found that 84 percent of men and 62 percent of women between 57 and 64 have had sex in the past year. The percentages decrease as age increases. But for those who continue, two-thirds have sex at least twice a month into their seventies and half maintain that pace into their 80s.  And sex is not the only potentially surprising activity on the list. Mike Flynt of Tennessee will suit up for the first time in 37 years to play college football this fall. At 59, he is eight years older than his coach and has children older than many of his teammates. However, that does not matter to him. This is his second chance, one made possible by continual attention to his health. He is in great shape and an inspiration to people of all ages, but particularly to those of his generation.

Staying physically fit becomes even more important as you age. If you allow your body to deteriorate, you could become incapable of performing basic, everyday activities and find yourself dependent on others.  Moreover, the older you get the higher your risk of heart disease and diabetes becomes. There’s no escaping the toll aging takes on your body, but you can combat it by staying in shape. Now, I’m not advising every 59 year old to attempt to play football with a group of 20 year olds. Mike Flynt is a rare occurrence. And since you are older, you have to take a few more precautions than you would have 30 years ago. But that shouldn’t stop you. Get out there; work out. And if you need a little help getting started, I have a few tips:

1. To maintain endurance, shoot for 30 minutes of physical activity each day. The activity should induce heavy breathing.�
2. To ensure that you’re able to pick up your grandchild the next time she comes to visit, lift weights. Using light weights or even your own body weight is a great way to start.
3. To improve balance, stand on one foot, walk heel to toe and practice standing without using your arms.
4. Always remember to stretch, but also remember that pain isn’t your goal. Flexibility is. Don’t push yourself too far.
5. And enjoy yourself. These are your golden years!

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