Some days you feel aged, and others you feel youthful.
Why the difference? This feeling can change over the course of less than a week – though you’re basically the same calendar age on both days. Nothing monumental has happened between the two days – current events are the same, your health is the same on both days, nothing bad has happened, nothing particularly good has happened. Yet, on some days you feel in your spirit like you’re 20; and on others you feel the way I imagine my 75 year old grandmother felt when she got up stiffly from an extended session in her chair (groaning and complaining to anyone who was listening).
When I think about it, I realize that the difference between feeling youthful or aged, often has to do with how my body is feeling.
When it’s hard for me to get up off the floor, when I get up from a chair and feel stiff, when I move quickly to intercept a 3-year-old who is rushing headlong into danger and feel a horrible pull in my back I feel aged.
How your body feels when you move has a lot to do with how old you feel.
Remember when you were a kid and you could jump up from sitting on the floor to standing and then to running? Those are a lot of transitions for a body to complete, yet you probably could do them with ease, without even thinking. And quickly, too!
How are you doing with moving from floor to standing these days?
I’ve seen some 60-70 something’s do it gracefully and with ease. And I’ve also seen some 40 something’s unable to do it without the help of a sturdy piece of furniture nearby to pull up on.
Children who are just learning to stand and walk need a couch or chair to pull themselves to standing. They’re building up leg and core muscle strength, so that they can shortly do it without the aid of anything.
That means that if you need something to pull yourself up with, you have lost that muscle strength.
Children also move their bodies all over the darn place. They are natural gymnasts, jumping, rolling and changing directions instantly. They are usually very flexible. Flexible is not always how I feel when I have to move quickly to catch one of my students who is falling. Better I should tweak my back than allow them to hit their head because they have slow protective reflexes.
But do you really have to injure yourself in order to protect someone else?
The answer, you might have figured out, is NO.
In fact, you don’t even have to spend that much time working some simple exercises into your day.
There are any number of articles in dozens of magazines and online articles that promise you “quick results” with little investment of time and effort. So you buy the magazine or read the article and find that the exercise routines are not realistic for you.
Or they can only be completed with special equipment that you don’t have – that you then buy and store forever (exercise balls, exercise bands, infomercial gadgets, etc.). You didn’t like the exercise routine, but you don’t get rid of the equipment because you might want to use it again someday.
Okay, maybe not you. Me. People like me.
The exercise gadgets have gathered dust, sitting on the floor and reminding me how much money I have spent on them. I need to Marie Kondo them out of my house. They are definitely not sparking joy.
I really have discovered a system of maintaining my strength and back flexibility (where I am most prone to injure myself). When I have gone too many days without keeping to my system, I definitely feel it. I have a hard time getting up from the floor, my back stiffens up after sitting for only an hour at my desk, and I realize that I am feeling aged.
When I follow my system nearly every day, I feel youthful and strong and well. And it really doesn’t take much time!
- I walk for 20+ minutes most days. Sometimes it is around the block at work a couple of times and sometimes it is on the treadmill. it depends on how early I wake up and what I have going for the day.
- At least once every day I sit on the floor and then get up to standing, trying to use primarily my legs (and arms) and not using furniture to help me. If I do have to put a hand on a chair, I try to use it only for balance, and not to lean on. But if I do have to lean, I definitely do – with practice, and on another day, I know I won’t have to. This happens when I haven’t been practicing for a few days! I confess I don’t look that graceful, but I’m working on it!
- I go through a series of back exercises first thing in the morning that takes under 4 minutes to complete. They feel good and I’m always glad when I’ve completed them. The series I use is from The Healthy Back, by Kim Davies, and it’s called, “Waking up your spine.” The book is available on Amazon.com used. Alternatively, here is a nice series of stretches which are more graceful, that are recommended before a Tai Chi workout. They do take over 8 minutes, but you may enjoy this graceful set of stretches.
You may want to explore and find some stretches and an exercise sequence that you would enjoy more. There are any number of exercise and stretching routines available online.
I prefer to work on moves during the day that are functional to me. Moving from floor to standing is something I do every day – I work with preschoolers. And I prefer to do my meditation practice sitting on the floor where I feel more grounded. I’m grateful for bending and stretching routines when picking up toys off the floor and singing and dancing with my students. Knowing some quick stretching routines helps me get through days when I’m doing piles of paperwork at my desk and I need to take movement breaks.
What moves could you practice that would help you move more easily through your day?
You might also want to revisit an activity you did when you were much younger – swimming, biking, running, roller blading, ballet, tumbling. I always enjoy the looks on my preschool students’ faces when I show them how to do a somersault by doing one myself!
The point is, you don’t have to take a lot of time to help your body move and feel better.
And you don’t have to have fancy equipment unless you need and want it.
Take a class with a friend, find a yoga studio near you, find out what a personal trainer will charge you for an assessment and a few sessions to get you started, take a Qoya class.
The people who age the quickest are those people who don’t move, who believe that when you get older you naturally move less and sit more.
Go the the local grocery store when people your age and older shop (in my town, especially in warm weather, this is early on a Saturday morning). People roughly the same age will all be moving differently.
- Some people lean heavily on their carts as they walk
- Some people walk slowly
- Some people walk more quickly
- Some people have a spring in their step
- Some people walk heavily, as if it were a great effort
You can choose how you grow older. No matter your physical state, there is something you can do to maintain and build strength and flexibility.
Live well for as long as you live!
The better your body feels, the better you will feel, inside and out.
What do you do to feel youthful and strong?
What activity did you do as a youngster that you’d love to do again?
What do you do to keep your body feeling good?
I’d love to hear from you – I can always use some ideas for how I can fit movement and activity into my day!
“You’re never too old to become younger.”
Until next time,