Let Fitness Postpone When You Become Old?

Now that I’ve arrived in senior citizen land I’m finding a vast array of emotions go with that territory. To celebrate turning 65, I embarked on a journey that I had waited a lifetime to take. When I was 24, I took a side trip to the Grand Canyon on my way to California for business. I flew to Phoenix, rented a car and drove to the Canyon. While there I picked up a copy of Arizona Highways, a magazine published by the State of Arizona. In it were descriptions of rafting trips down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. I kept that magazine for 40 years because I knew that someday I would return.

I taught canoeing in my teens and went on 5 day rafting trips down Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River. I loved camping out and being on the water. So as I turned 65, I decided that I better get on with this trip while I was still able to do it. I also knew I wasn’t fit enough for the hiking that the trip entailed. So I joined the JCC of Manhattan and found an excellent trainer, Thomas Williamson who is now a contributor to our site. I worked with him twice a week for several months. He knew my goal was very specific. I had never been a hiker but wanted to do as much as I could on the trip. By the end of the training, he had me walking up 12 flights of steps with a 15 lb. bar on my shoulders to simulate my photo backpack loaded with water and camera gear. We’d go from the third sub-basement up to the roof and then we’d do it again.

The trip was hard. Yes, you are on a river, but in the middle of a desert and the humidity is about 5%. Every time you get drenched going through a rapid, your hands get wet and then the wind just sucks the moisture right off you. My hands and fingers cracked open despite using every cream and potion the raft company sold. You can read the description of my trip, but here’s the point. I was determined to fulfill this dream trip to the extent I could. I didn’t attempt the vertical climbs up the walls of the canyon that some of the younger, more experienced hikers did. But I did make it up 1500 feet one day to a beautiful upper terrace I wouldn’t have been able to reach without my preparation.

How old you feel can be a result of how much you allow yourself to become a couch potato and stop moving. You don't need to have the money for a trainer or a gym to stay fit. You can swim in a local municipal pool or the ocean. You need only good sneakers to walk to help your body stay in shape. If you stay fit, you will feel better and you will think better. It’s also about the right diet for your bod; staying trim, and keeping yourself agile. Ben Franklin advocated early to bed and early to rise to be healthy wealthy and wise. Old Ben had gout and a big belly so it doesn’t appear he lived by his own words. I am a night owl so I don’t agree with the early to bed part, either. But I agree 1000% that everything starts with good health. You can keep working, recover from your financial reverses, or just keep on keeping on’ if you take care of your health.