A necessary ingredient for aging gracefully is adopting healthy lifestyle habits. I can’t talk about healthy lifestyles without extolling the importance of a total conditioning exercise program. Such a program includes: cardio, strength, balance, and flexibility (stretching). Yet, most people only focus on cardio. Cardio (walking, jogging, running, swimming, biking, raking leaves, and other activities that get your heart pumping) is great. But, it is not enough to sustain you as you enter your 50s and beyond. It is imperative that you engage in the other three if you want to age gracefully as well as remain active.
Many women readily understand the importance of balance and flexibility, but shy away from strength training. They equate strength training with lifting weights. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard a woman say, “I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want bulging muscles.” First of all, lifting weights is not the only way to train for strength. But if your program does involve lifting, it is highly unlikely that you will develop bulging muscles unless that is your goal. And, even then, it takes a lot more than lifting to a few weights to build huge muscles.
So, because I want my readers to start doing strength training, here are four compelling reasons to include it in your fitness program.
- Increased mental and physical stamina. Strength training helps you to get stronger, leaner, and healthier. And, leads to increased mental and physical stamina so that you can better handle the stresses of everyday living.
- Strengthens your bones. Strength training strengthens your bones reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis. Stronger bones mean that you can enjoy daily activities with more confidence and ease.
- Prevents injury. Strength training strengthens muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones thus lowering the chance of injury.
- Slows down the aging process. Strength training is the only exercise proven to slow down the aging process. It prevents muscle loss that normally accompanies aging.
If you don’t include strength training in your regular workout program, you’re missing out on a key component of overall fitness and health.
What are some of your thoughts and stories about exercise, graceful aging, or strength training? I want to hear from you.
While researching the topic of graceful aging, I ran across several interesting and memorable quotes. Several resonated with me, but here are 5 of my favorites.
"Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength." -Betty Friedan
“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” -Ben Franklin
“There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take the time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.” -Unknown
The time to begin most things is ten years ago.” -Mignon McLaughlin
"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art."
In future posts, I intend to provide commentary on these quotes as well as many others. Meanwhile, if you have some great quotes about graceful aging or you have stories or know people who are aging gracefully, please let me hear from you.
Here are a five more things I know about aging.
It’s never too late. Ideally, one should start early if the goal is to age gracefully. As a matter of fact, it’s never too early since technically the aging process begins at birth. But whether you start at 30, 40, 50, or you are just getting started (at age 60), it’s never too late to develop healthy lifestyle habits and other anti-aging steps to slow down the aging process.
Take care of yourself. If the goal is to age with dignity and confidence, you must take care of yourself in every way. You must make fitness, health, and wellness your top priorities. Taking care of yourself means caring for your mind, body, and spirit by: making better food choices, exercising, getting enough sleep, associating with right-minded and positive people, staying active, and just having balance in your life.
Accept and embrace the aging process. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Contrary to what we may have been told, aging is not a disease to be avoided at all cost. It’s not about gloom and doom. It’s something to look forward to. If you don’t think so, consider the alternatives. When you accept and embrace the aging process, you decide how you want to live this phase of your life.
Feel good about yourself. When it comes to aging gracefully, feeling good about yourself is at the very top of the list of things I know for sure. I know for sure that if you don’t value, appreciate and feel good yourself and what you have accomplished, the aging process can be downright scary and can lead to gloom and doom, depression, and unhappiness. Feeling healthy and feeling good about yourself is not a luxury. It’s an absolute necessity.
Never stop learning. Learning is vital to graceful aging. You can never stop learning. And, thanks to technology, learning is so much easier. Technology makes your life easier, more comfortable, and it helps you to maintain your independence. With technology, the whole wide world is just one click away.
What are some things you know about aging? I would love to hear from you.
Aging gracefully…what does it mean? While it means different things to different people, the bottom line is this: if we live long enough, there is no way around it. We get older, we age. Aging is simply another stage in our lives; a stage that can be exciting or humdrum. Whether it’s exciting or humdrum is entirely up to you. On this, you are 100% in control. For that stage to be exciting it requires energy, stamina, and the right mental attitude. For it to be humdrum, it requires virtually nothing. Just be still and watch life pass you by.
For some, aging gracefully means: staying active, not fighting the idea of biological aging, and moving forward in a manner that doesn’t deny who you are. For others, it means accepting the inevitable changes of aging, finding meaningful activities, and being optimistic. For me, it means all of these things. However, it also means accepting yourself for who and what you are; accepting and embracing the aging process and the changes it’s bringing; and making the necessary adjustments – emotionally/mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and otherwise – to adapt to those changes.
While there is a lot about aging I don’t know, there are some things I do know. For example, I know that aging gracefully is focusing on those qualities that accrue with maturity and that make us attractive at any age. I also know that aging gracefully isn’t just about looking good; it’s about feeling good in every way – physically, psychologically, intellectually, occupationally, socially, and spiritually. And, finally, I am convinced that the three most important ingredients to graceful aging are: attitude, lifestyle, and the ability to accept change.
What do you think? Next week, I will share a few more things I know about graceful aging.