Recently, I overheard the beginning of a conversation between two people at my local YMCA. A woman asked the man on the stationary bike next to her how he was doing. He said, “I’m great. Every day is a gift when you’re 89.”
Are seniors the most physically fit demographic in this country? After observing and eavesdropping on exercisers at the Y, it sure seems like it.
Before retiring I exercised after work and knew that the parking lot, weight room and treadmill-stationary bike room had filled up by five-thirty p.m. What I didn’t realize, until I started exercising in the morning, was that the size of the before-noon crowd, which consists almost exclusively of seniors, was about the same as the after-work group.
The seniors inspire me every time I see them. (I know I shouldn’t say “them” since I’m officially a senior, but the members of group I’m talking about are in their seventies, eighties and nineties.) They are working out on the weight machines, bikes and treadmills, joining aerobics and other conditioning classes, taking tai chi and yoga — and participating in more than one activity each morning. Not everyone is trim and fit, but most are, and all seem dedicated to becoming or staying healthy. One man told my husband he walked an hour a day six days a week, after he lifts weights. An eighty-five-year-old said he had to quit kickboxing following eye surgery, but had found alternate ways to get an even better workout.
What sets this group of seniors apart from other demographic groups, besides having free time during the day, is having well-established exercise habits. The same people are working out three or more days a week, year after year. Since late summer I’ve become one of them because regular exercise has become my habit. One obvious benefit is that I’m slowly moving articles of clothing from the “give-it-away-if you-can’t fit-into-it-in-a-year” side of my closet to the “wear-it-now” side.
Now it’s time to create a new habit to respond to the cookies and candy still loitering around the house after the holidays.