Do I have to jog when I’m 80?

pa-170301055sFor quite some time I’ve been seeing posts and videos on Facebook celebrating old age—advanced old age, from 80 and up to 100 and beyond—and most of them seem to follow the same pattern:

The elderly person in question (usually a woman) is either a body-builder, runs races, does yoga, or engages in some other supposedly health-giving physical activities that would be daunting even to many of the young. Then Facebookers react with a “wow” or “love” emoticon.

As someone in her seventh decade, I’m pretty sure that at least some of us “old folks” are thinking: “Gee, that’s amazing! I wish I could do that. I could never do that. How does she do that?!”

I for one, however, don’t have that knee-jerk reaction.

117864220I’ve never been athletic, despised gym class when I was in school, and would much rather read a book in a comfy arm chair than jog around the block. I do enjoy swimming, though, and tai chi, but never think of either as a sport (hey, I’m not training for the Olympics).

There seems to be an all-pervasive belief, especially in the US, that the human body should be kept in constant movement. A couple of guys I know even said this to me recently (of course they’re both athletes). Now I ask you: How could any human being stay in constant motion? It’s impossible.

The other biggie is that we live sedentary lives and that it’s unnatural. I especially love that one. Somehow the people who constantly bang that particular drum seem to forget (or maybe don’t know) that even in prehistoric times, people had “sedentary jobs”—food preparation, making tools, scraping animals hides, etc. Cro-Magnon man even invented the needle to sew skins together to make clothing.

I often think of my mother-in-law, who led a completely sedentary life, in addition to chain-smoking and eating lots of fried foods and chocolates—and who lived to be 100 years old. Friends have said, “Well, your mother-in-law must have had good genes.” Personally, I think this is nonsense, especially given what we now know about epigenetics, and how the mind controls the body. I like to think that it was the goodness of her heart, her unselfishness and interest in everyone and everything around her, that gave my mother-in-law her longevity.

In any case, I’d like to see some videos or read some articles about people who lived long, healthy, happy lives for reasons other than the fact that they spent every day at the gym lifting weights or preparing for the marathon. It’s not just about standing on your head at age 98 or running around the neighborhood into your 80s. Kudos to those (mostly) ladies for their efforts, but some of us just weren’t cut out for that!


Thanks to Rhonda Key Youngblood for this photo!




Filed under Aging, individuality, social media, tai chi, Uncategorized

11 responses to “Do I have to jog when I’m 80?

  1. GiGi

    Amy, I love you.

  2. I would have responded to this earlier but I was too tired to get to the keyboard. I had to get up early and make it to my chair. Then, darned if the tV remote wasn’t working so it was off to the TV and back to my recliner. Then… the tough part. The half marathon started at 8AM and hardly walk when it was over. I figured if just watching it on TV made me that tired I wold NEVER have had the energy to get in the car and drive downtown to see it in person.

    Anyway, I am with you. I do love to read and have found that very small books are much lighter to lift and hold while reading!! I am happy to be racing toward 80 along with you!! (Well, maybe not racing… creeping probably!!)


  3. Hahaha! Love it! And hey, I don’t even lift books anymore…I bought a Kindle cuz it’s smaller and lighter! 😀

  4. Here … happy now 😛

    On a more serious note, I am in complete agreement.

    Outside of just being luck of the draw (some people die young, others old, and that is that), I think outlook is the key. For some, they get the positive vibrations going through being active and feeling “alive,” while for others it’s a matter of appreciating their day to day – sitting at the dinner table and enjoying good company and food.

    What matters is that we still have you around to sprinkle some love down – although I wouldn’t mind seeing you geared up for a game of old folks hockey. I think you would kill.

    There is a Hindu philosophy I latched on to when I was younger – and Hermann Hesse (though more linked to Buddhist philosophy) kind of touches on it himself in the book Damian. It is the idea of “equipoise” – of moving while standing still.

    When I first learned it, it was described as a river, which seems still but is constantly moving, but it is moving in equilibrium with its surroundings. Hesse describes it in his book as a warm flame in a fireplace – it can’t be too hot, otherwise no one would sit by it for fear of getting burned, but it can’t be too cold, otherwise no one would sit by it for it would not give off enough heat to warm us. The key is being a constant fire (a figurative “middle way”) – which shelters everyone the best it can. I try my best to live in this equipoise in my daily life. As Bruce Lee once said, “Be water.”

    See you around sister soldier.

  5. Ooooh, I love this, little genius! “Equipoise” is going to be my new personal buzzword from now on!
    Coincidentally, I was just nosing around YOUR blog and reading bits and pieces, having a good time…good stuff! I read the SP Sex and the City one just now…wow, I was totally addicted to that show! I think it’s a girl-thing. I thought it was brilliant, though, on many levels, not to mention hysterically funny in spots and Kleenex-worthy touching in others.
    Oh, I love Bruce Lee, too. 🙂

  6. Oh yeah, and GO AGNES! Bottoms up!

  7. nice blog… this post of yours inspired me 🙂

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