Since I am 69, I am no longer worried about fitness over 50.
I am working to protect myself from alzheimer's disease and the acute things that come with age and poor health like heart attacks.
Is fitness doable at our age? Absolutely. It is not like the fitness that I did when I was 20, or 30, but it is very doable.
Given advances in fitness technology, I can get a very strong aerobic workout on an elliptical trainer without the wear and tear on my hips and knees that I got running outside or on a treadmill.
My fitness program involves regular aerobic exercise and weight lifting at my local YMCA, where we have a family membership.
Just had a physical and my physician reports all is well.
I am very aware of the changes that have happened to me physically and mentally as I age.
I have struggled with word recall, which is not a good thing in my business, counseling, where finding just the right word at the right time can make a difference for a client.
I experience and have adjusted to, with the help of my physician, the changes in sexuality that happen for men of my age. My wife and I work to make sure that struggle is not detrimental to our feelings for one another. Medication helps, but I do not particularly care for the side effects of viagra.
My physician has prescribed testosterone cream for me, and I like the impact of that, and would recommend men of my age looking into that for increased muscle mass and energy.
I actually have a chronic illness which has been in remission for about 30 years, so I got a second chance, which others including members of my own family did not get.
That has given me motivation to grow physically and mentally and spiritually that others may not have.
So I have been an advocate of a lifestyle that is more helpful, if not healthful, than most.
I do struggle with weight, which is the one thing I am not happy with right now, and weight for me follows eating too much late at night when I am seeing clients.
Clients can visit me usually after their work, in the evening, so I do not get home until later and eat for comfort rather than nutrition, which results in extra weight.
However, this summer I am looking after the kids and not seeing so many clients, and my wife looks like she is very serious about her own eating, so I anticipate losing weight with her.
So we as a family struggle with the same kinds of issues that others of our age do.
So my fitness model involves getting to the YMCA usually five days per week for aerobic exercise and weight lifting. I also include lawn mowing and snow shoveling as part of my fitness routine, and the small amount of maintenance that goes into gardening.
Amazingly enough, I am actually lifting heavier weights in some exercises now than I did when I was a kid, so it is possible to increase muscle mass even at 61, and the guys there who are older and call me "the sprout" are doing the same.
But the hot tub sure feels good. My recovery time is still just as good.
The primary thing that I work on while I am exercising, doing interval training on a treadmill, is prayer and meditation.
Once I am breathing deeper and can feel the relaxation and rhythm internally that comes with that, I can begin to do my daily prayer and meditation with much more effectiveness, because I have entered a state of relaxation.
And I am open to the insights that happen in the alpha and even theta brain wave state, which inform my spiritual life.
So it was very interesting for me to come across recent research about brain fitness which indicates that you can keep your brain healthy and even growing (get that, growing) if you take care of what the brain fitness folks are calling the pillars of brain fitness.
And the first of those pillars is physical activity if not physical exercise.
But back to what the researchers are discovering about the human brain and what it can do at any age. The brain grows new neurons every day, which is called neurogenesis. This recent discovery has over turned decades of neuroscientific dogma, and neurogenesis can be encouraged.
The other concept is neuroplasticity which describes the incredible effort my brain makes to keep its neurons connecting to other neurons. Novel learning experiences are very helpful for neuroplasticity, and neuroplasticity is the key to keeping my brain effective even if it has plaques which are associated with Alzheimers disease. In other words I can build what is called a cognitive reserve, so my brain can route signals around problem areas.
Besides physical exercise, or physical activity, (doing more of what you are already doing as opposed to joining the YMCA and doing full fledged workouts), we must attend to nutrition, sleep, stress management, and challenge our brains with novel learning experiences, which might include using computerized brain fitness programs.
If you want to check it our for yourself, please look to recent works by Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, or The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge,MD.
If you want an e-book, I recommend this one, Brainfit for Life written by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.
They have culled a great deal on insight from brain fitness kinds of research and put it together for us who want to age and retain our faculties.
We stand a much better chance of maintaining our mental acuity if we follow their recommendations.
I am already involved in a number of the activities they recommend, but I was intrigued by their comments in regard to novel learning experiences, which usually means learning a new language, or learning to play a new musical instrument.
That kind of learning is the kind which challenges the brain in the best way, but they address the growing number of commercially available programs, and their book talks about the results for IQ for people doing the dual n back task online.
So I tried it and the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Program, the Lumosity program, and Michael Merzinich's Posit Science Brain Fitness Program are part of what I do to keep myself fit over 50.
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