Healthy Aging

September is National Healthy Aging Month.  I’m delighted, since it is also my birthday month and the time of year when I re-evaluate my health and fitness goals.  As a long time educator, I have always viewed September as the start of a new year – time to set new learning goals and to develop strategies to achieve them.

One of my anti-aging goals is to learn a new fitness activity each year or every other year and to work on improving my skills for that activity.  Twelve years ago, I began by taking a yoga class once a week.  As I progressed, I added a second class each week.  Then, a session at home.  Then, twice a week at home in addition to the two classes at my gym.  Next, I learned more difficult poses and still have more to learn.  As a result, my flexibility and balance have improved.  In addition, since yoga is a preparation for meditation, I have experienced the benefits of mind-quieting concentration and relaxation. To keep myself mentally sharp, I became a certified yoga instructor.  Research has shown that staying fit physically and mentally is essential for delaying the decline into the disability zone!

Over the years, I have enjoyed learning several new fitness activities:  Maboki, a combination of martial arts, boxing, and kickboxing, which is taught in classes at my gym.  It’s been a fun way to improve my co-ordination, balance, and muscle endurance; rollerblading has been a great reminder of the “principal of progressive overload” ~ when I began to rollerblade 15 years ago, I could barely skate to the end of my court and back because my ankles got sore.  Little by little, I added more distance in small increments.  Now, I can easily skate for over an hour and have such a good time, I forget that it’s exercise!

Several years ago, I overcame my fear of water by taking swimming lessons and then S.C.U.B.A. diving lessons.  These were extremely challenging for me, but I am so grateful I persevered ~ had I not, I would have missed swimming and diving with dolphins!!

In more recent years, I have studied Pilates more intensely and learned Kettle bells, became certified in Zumba and Zumbatone and am now studying the X-tend Barre Method.  It’s all fun fitness!

Every year doesn’t have to mean setting a huge goal like some of my clients who have done the AVON 3 day Breast Cancer Walk (60 miles in 3 days!), although that type of accomplishment is deeply rewarding.  Goals can be as simple as walking a 5K, learning a new exercise routine, or adding new strength training exercises to the current routine, or trying Pilates or Tai Chi.

By staying active, we can age healthfully, mentally and physically and, as the old song says “Be among the very young at heart”.