Aging With Grace

Aging With Grace

To just about everyone who reaches a self defined ripe age, growing older is not nearly as much fun as, say, growing up or blossoming or hitting your stride at 35 or 40. Growing old brings with it new aches and pains, disappointments and continuing discoveries of crummy little surprises. Aging, at best, is not usually one of life’s most joyous passages, least of all for sissies or whiners.

But for those up to the challenge and for those prepared to do it gracefully, aging, even getting old, need not be the dreary, depressing experience some make it out to be. Here are a few thoughts about making it through by making the best of it.

Use it:

Use everything you’ve got, or it will just slip away while you are not paying attention. Exercise physically or train at anything and everything you can do and enjoy. Build as much variety into your physical fitness program as you can, both to condition as much of your anatomy as you can reach as well as to spread the stress of training and to lengthen your recovery periods without going cold turkey. Run, bowl, hike, bicycle, ski, swim, climb – whatever – just do it more or less every day or two and more or less all year round.

Learn to take it easy:

The most important lesson any hard driving, competitive person can internalize is understanding the importance of backing off, resting and gathering strength, knowing when and how to do it. Rest and recovery are at the heart of all athletic training and contain the secret of both the long run and the long, long run.

Know your stress:

That is, know what kind of stress works for you. Stress has gotten a mostly bad rap in the popular press. We achieve; we create; we survive and thrive on stress. Stress is inherent in quality athletic training as it is in fitness exercise, and no one can perform, improve or endure without quality training. That fact holds for the world class athlete as it does for the most modest, middle aged, neophyte jogger starting out in the neighborhood. Stress is not inherently bad for you, but unrelieved, unmanaged, debilitating stress ages you as fast as any other abuse. Handle your stress and learn when and how to back off.


Get all that you need. Remember that your sleep requirements can change somewhat depending on your training, age and excess stress levels. Be sensitive to your own needs and don’t cut your sack time short.


Go for the best. Aim for natural, green and yellow vegetables and ripe fruits, nuts, grains, fish, and plenty of water. Stay away from fat, sugary, greasy, fake, doughy, heavy and highly manufactured and refined foods. Three square meals a day that include a good variety of wholesome, honest ingredients as close to their natural state as possible remains the best advice for the prudent athlete or anyone who wants to keep going for as long as possible.


Do something for others. Anything you do that actually contributes to the general welfare will make you feel better and can act like an energizing tonic on your outlook and sense of accomplishment. Simple things like volunteering to time a local race or something big like writing a newsletter for area runners are there for the doing. If you have trouble inventing a do-good project all by yourself, there are plenty of organizations right in your home town that would be delighted to give you some ideas. All you have to do is ask.


Take your enjoyment just for its own sake. People train or exercise for a wide variety of reasons. But the one that will stay with you and the one that will give you the most profound benefits is you own personal pleasure that you derive from whatever you do, whether it is a two mile walk or a jog or serious training for yet another marathon.


Know the warning signs of rapid aging. Some negative feelings are a sure tip-off of rough times ahead. Recognize them when they come at you and grapple with them then and there. Don’t let them ferment in your head. These signals include anxiety, (free floating or other) anger, jealousy, melancholia and indifference, to name a few. Sometimes the best way to start to deal with them is to go out for an endurance exercise session – a long run or hike or ride – to put them in perspective.


Fix your problems. Once you’ve gotten a handle on the negative downers, break them into manageable “chunks” and chip away at the firs ones first.


Above all, keep moving. There has never been a way discovered that will keep you youthful forever, but keeping actively engaged in regular exercise on a day to day basis is as likely as you will come to finding a fountain of youth. It is also a lot more fun than vegetating and waiting to begin feeling your age.

Bernard L. Gladieux, Jr.


The Pressure Positive Company


Copyright © 2008 Bun Gladieux Jr.


Photo by James Hose Jr on Unsplash

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