I’ll be 65 years old in a couple of months. You can judge for yourself from my JumpRock videos as to whether I might have any useful advice on staying fit into old age. If so then here it is:
At the age of about 31 I was seven years out of the army and somewhere between mediocre and decent shape. Aside from a lot of colds and ear infections I could cruise along ok. But, by that time any enthusiasm I had for exercise and gyms in my twenties had pretty much gone by the board. So if nothing had happened to change the course of events my general fitness level would have gradually, or maybe not so gradually, drifted downwards and I’d be a saggy old man of 65.
But as luck would have it, something did happen to intervene as I’ve posted elsewhere, and I started riding a stationary bike every day after work, totally motivated by how it would make me feel that very evening. Not how fit I’d be in six weeks, and certainly not by how fit I’d be in 34 years. Sixty-five years old – I’d rather be dead, literally.
But here I am 34 years later, and to quote Arlo Guthrie, as luck would have it, I didn’t die. But as it turns out it’s nowhere near bad as I expected.
But you know why it’s not that bad? Because I started riding an exercise bike every day after work 34 years ago.
So it’s up to you. Maybe it’s your good luck that you read this post and took it to heart and it’s the beginning for you. It really is as simple as start a workout every day with feeling good as your goal – quit as soon as you feel like it. And that’s more important than I can emphasize. You absolutely will have days when you want to skip it, and on those days you have to take that commitment seriously – that you will pretty much just go through the motions and then quit. You’ll say it’s meaningless or silly or any number of things to try and get out of it, but whatever it is, just call it part of the process and do it.
If you make a good faith effort to get at least a little exercise, and then gradually extend that effort the payback of how you feel for the next few hours will start making a workout the natural next step after a day at work so you can enjoy your evening.
If you’re even reading this article you’re ahead of where I was back then because you’re probably interested in being fit and staying that way in old age. I was just looking for a cheap high, so you’re already more motivated than I was. You just need to shift your focus from fitness to feelings and take me on faith that you can take a mechanical approach to getting into an exercise habit you will stick with.
For me, it’s JumpRock that made the real difference. But it was that daily ride that set me up to be in a position to learn to jump at age 55. For one thing, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to jump rope – I did that to get a change from the stationary bike. For another thing I probably wouldn’t have stuck with it if I wasn’t already in the habit of exercising. It was an improvement right away, because I would be exhausted in about five minutes as compared to thirty on the bike.
By the way, I know as sure as I know anything that if it hadn’t been for the exercise habit I wouldn’t have stuck with the physical therapy I needed for arthritis in my early 50’s, because they didn’t seem to have any effect at first. So there’s another plus for being in the habit of regular exercise. Essentially it’s the ability to zone out. By which you should infer that exercise is not nearly as bad after you’ve been doing it awhile.
So, back to jump rope, I did get past the tedium and now I’m in better shape than I could have ever dreamed at my age, or any age, getting exercise doing something I love better than I could have ever dreamed of at my age, or any age.
You can’t buy that for any amount of money. But you can have it for free. Just do what I did. I guarantee you I’m nobody special.
As for motivation, I needed to study in the evening. For you, if the motivation is that you want to be in the shape I’m in at 65, then realize I got that way by going for that daily fix of endorphins.