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aging and fitness

Image by Sven Mieke on Unsplash.

I’m totally sick of Facebook postings like this one:   “70-Year-Old Bodybuilder: He changed his life and started working out at the age of 44. A true inspiration for all of us. Another example that age is NOT an excuse.”

That’s a little too simplistic.

For one thing, forty-four isn’t that old. Olga Kotelko started training for track and field events at age 77.

Wille Murphy, the intrepid bodybuilder, drove away a burglar at age 82.

But for some people these goals are impossible. Some people can’t go full out and exercise because of conditions they can’t control. They may have eye conditions that limit the weight they can lift. They might have knee problems. They may have been born with heart problems.

I’m into fitness myself. I work out several times a week. Medical research links physical activity to everything from stress relief to protection from strokes to stronger immune systems.
I plan to continue working out and being active for the rest of my life.

People tell me, “You’ll live a long time since you work out.”


But I also know that, in the end, it’s all about luck.

Not everyone who lifts weights will develop a body builder’s physique.

And not everyone will reap the rewards or pay the price of their lifestyle.

I once knew a woman in her 80s who had smoked two packs a day for years. She never watched her diet. Exercise? She worked in her garden and was obviously carrying many extra pounds. Her parents and siblings had all died of heart attacks.

She had regular checkups. She had EKGs. The doctors unanimously agreed: she wasn’t going to depart this earth any time soon.

But I also knew a seventy-something man who had been active every day, going on look walks and participating in many activities. Suddenly he developed a condition that made it hard for him to walk easily. His balance was off. Doctors didn’t know what caused the problem. Doing everything right, he lost access to almost everything that gave his life meaning.

So I continue to work out. But I don’t expect miracles.

And I really get annoyed with those chirpy-cheery sayings, “Age is not a barrier,” and, “Anyone can do this.”

That puts the blame on people who have done everything right. They just drew the wrong cards.

And it’s just as stereotypical as saying, “You have to slow down when you’re 40…or 50…or 80.”