There are couple of “inevitabilities” that I have come to accept in life:
-We’re all getting older.
-Each year feels like it goes by quicker than the last.
-The older you get, the harder it is to stay in shape.
Last week I came across a Facebook post about an inspiring senior from Atlanta, Georgia who is still rocking the Pickleball courts at 99 years of age! It was a beautiful reminder to me that there’s always a way of finding enjoyable physical activities that will help us stay strong and healthy, regardless of our age.
Let’s take a look at just who this 99 year old “model of health” is, what he does to stay fit, and a few simple suggestions from WebMD on living a long and strong life…
That’s right…you read it correctly: He’s 99 years old. His name is Sid Cojac, and he’s an avid Pickleball player. He’s also my newest role model!
Sid stays in shape by playing Pickleball regularly at the Marcus Jewish Community Center in Atlanta Georgia. He’s also been one of the key “players” in helping to grow the sport’s fast growing popularity in the Atlanta area.
Let me say it just one more time…he’s 99 years old, and he is consistently playing a sport that requires agility, balance, strength and endurance.
Ironically Pickleball, like many other physical activities that are fun, not only requires these four important fitness characteristics…is also a great way of improving them as well.
Sports like Pickleball have become incredibly popular with baby boomers and seniors across the country, in large part because of the health benefits they offer. It’s also a game that can be a boat load of fun, regardless of your age.
There’s very little doubt in my mind that these factors have had a lot to do with why Sid Cojak is experiencing such a level of fitness for a person who has been alive for almost a century. We should all be fortunate enough to be able to be doing the things we truly love when one day we reach 99 years old, too.
For more on the incredibly fun sport of Pickleball, check out Addicted to Pickleball.
Baby Boomer Generation | Living Better & Longer
The story about Sid inspired me. It also made me curios about what other people in the baby boomer and older age groups are doing to keep themselves fit and healthy. So, I started doing some digging.
I came across a very good article on WebMD, about being a baby boomer and living
better and longer. The article stresses the point that it is imperative for us to find several different ways of staying physically active, especially as we get older.
The article goes on to point out many of the most common concerns and road blocks seniors tend to have about staying fit & active:
- not having enough time
- being self conscious around younger people at the gym
- being worried about physically hurting themselves through exercise
What are WebMD’s thoughts on these roadblocks?:
“Maybe one of these is the reason you aren’t physically active or exercising. But, in fact, scientists now know that it’s usually more dangerous to not exercise, no matter how old you are. And you don’t need to buy fancy clothes or belong to a gym to become more active…
…make physical activity a part of your everyday life. Find things you enjoy. Go for brisk walks. Ride a bike. Dance. Work around the house and in the yard. Take care of your garden. Climb stairs. Rake leaves. Do a mix of things that keep you moving and active.”
To me, this seems like such a simple, “common senses” approach to staying healthy (in addition to good eating habits). But come to find out, there is a little more to the story when it comes to using day to day activities as a means of staying fit.
There are 4 pieces of the fitness puzzle that you’ll need to have in place.
4 Fitness Tips for the Baby Boomer
According to WebMD there are 4 key areas you need to incorporate into your mix of daily physical activities, to maximize their health benefits.
- Breath Harder It’s important to find at least 30 minutes on most days to participate in activities that help make you breathe a little harder. By breathing harder you’ll increase your endurance level. This 30 minutes doesn’t need to be all at one time and it doesn’t have to be too intense, either. The activity just needs to be intense enough that your breathing and heart rate is elevated, but not so intense that you can’t hold a conversation while doing it.
- Work your Muscles By performing activities that keep your muscles strong, especially supportive hip and leg muscles, you’ll have a lot more ability to continue doing the physical things you love into your later years. You’ll also be far less apt to experience an injury from a fall, resulting from poor hip or leg strength.
- Improve your Balance The core fitness craze that’s gained so much popularity in recent years is centered around exercises that require balance and stability. The nice thing with balancing is, you don’t need a fitness instructor or gym to find balance improving activities in your day to day activities. Even simple exercises like practicing standing on only one leg at a time, are a great way to improve strength, balance and coordination.
- Stretch Flexibility is crucial. Each year that passes, our bodies tend to become less and less flexible. Regular stretching (once your body is warmed up) helps you to achieve greater freedom of movement and tends to help minimize muscle soreness associated with exercise.
Find Things You Enjoy
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve gone months, if not years, without stepping foot into an actual gym. On the other hand, I can’t remember a single week in the last year that I haven’t played Pickleball.
Why? Because I find it incredibly FUN and rewarding! It doesn’t feel like work to me, even though I know it is.
If the physical activities you do are enjoyable, there’s a very good chance you will want to do them regularly. If you perform those exercises regularly, your health and fitness will experience a HUGE turbo boost from a wonderful thing called consistency.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to work out like a triathlete to gain the health benefits of physical activity. I think it’s much wiser to take a more patient “long haul” sort of approach. Go slow – don’t be afraid to take things one step at time, no matter what physical activity you pursue. You’re far less apt to have injuries this way and you’re also much more apt to find things you’ll enjoy doing if you take the time to give them a chance.
It may take some time to find the activities that work for you, but at least you’ll be doing something. And in my opinion something is almost always better than nothing.