Vince wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Sheba (pictured) wanted to participate with her son, a Special Olympian, and inspire other women to exercise.
Ari wanted to lose weight and get healthy enough to play with his grand kids.
What do these 60-somethings have in common? They all relied on exercise to help them enjoy their lives as fully as possible. From reaching “bucket list” goals to living their best lives every day, older adults are finding more and more that exercise isn’t really about fitness.
Exercise is really about living well, enjoying yourself, and staying healthy, even as you get older.
When someone starts telling you how great fitness is, it may only be natural for you to mentally check out of the conversation.
“Fitness? Who cares about fitness,” you might think. “I’m finally retired and I want to do what I want to do!”
But if your body isn’t functioning at its best, you won’t be able to do much at all.
Make the Most of Your Time
By retirement age, most North Americans have spent 90,000 hours working, 2,400 hours in traffic, and up to six months waiting in various lines.
If you’re like them, you’ve put off vacations and purchases, deferred pleasure and – in many cases – picked up some bad health habits over the decades.
Who can blame you? It’s the inevitable outcome of the Rat Race. During your working years, you were working.
You were working all the time, it seemed. Or picking up the kids, or taking care of the home.
And now… now you’re retired, or getting close to that magic moment, and your time is more at your disposal.
Like you, most senior North Americans have no intention of sitting on the couch and pulling the blinds. You still want to travel, to play with the grand kids, enjoy hobbies and sports, to keep your stress and blood pressure low, to manage chronic health conditions and avoid injuries.
You want health, longevity and more awesome life experiences, many of them with younger generations of your family.
In short, you want to enjoy this stage of life as much as possible.
Yes, yes, of course, you might say – But what does that have to do with fitness?
It’s All About Functioning
Simply put, you need your body to function if you want to continue enjoying life as fully as possible.
As we age, North Americans are more susceptible to falls, injuries, high blood pressure, pulled muscles and general lack of stamina.
Any of those can inhibit your ability to travel, golf, play with children or feel confident in social settings.
So, what does it mean to be fully functioning?
It means you’re strong, flexible and in good cardiovascular health. It means not carrying around too much extra weight. It means your sense of balance is good enough to keep you from falling, and your muscles are able to move you around safely.
Functional fitness doesn’t mean you have to live at the gym and become a body builder or aerobics fanatic.
It just means you respect your body enough to take care of it, so you can do what you want to do.
‘I’m Too Young for That’
That’s definitely the case for countless mature adullts wanting a healthy lifestyle, including Vince, Sheba and Ari.
“The main thing is movement,” Sheba says. “It’s so important to just do some kind of movement.”
They’re not alone, or even that unusual.
We know Joanne, who hiked across Europe with her family in her 80s – and she has Parkinson’s disease.
Lance, 84, uses the same workout as the Purdue University football team.
Frank, 51, just ran the annual Fourth of July 10K in Atlanta for the 10th straight year, despite an ankle injury.
As for Ari, he lost the weight, retired, and relocated to be nearer his grandchildren. Sheba continues to coach woman and accompany her son to events. And Vince made it all the way to the top of Africa’s tallest mountain.
“That really pushed my limits,” said Vince (below, on Kilimanjaro), who has worked for 35 years in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. “I’ve always been really active and competitive, but after I turned 55 or so, things got harder. But you know, I’m not going to let that stop me from living, man! I’m too young for that.”