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Keeping in shape after 60 - or any age

Updated on December 3, 2012
Pcunix profile image

I was born in 1948 and spent most of my career as a self employed computer trouble shooter for Unix systems.

Are you getting older? Are you "out of shape"? Are the muscles sagging, the belly bulging and you just aren't the man or woman you used to be?

Yeah, me too.

I'm serious about staying fit. At the same time, I'm not obsessive about it and don't work all that hard at it. I don't get to the gym every day, not even every other day. Some days I barely do any exercise. When I do exercise, I don't "kill myself". I don't hurt myself, I don't overdo it and I don't worry if I did less pull ups this week than I did last week. If I'm using the rowing machine and my butt hurts after ten minutes, I quit and do something else. I don't believe in "no pain, no gain" at all.

I'm 62 years old as I write this. I have a little arthritis here and there. I have some ancient injuries that can cause me pain if I foolishly try to do certain exercises.

It hurts when I do that

I have a simple solution for that: I don't do those exercises.

What's better than nothing?

Anything is better than nothing. If you have no money, earning $10 may not be enough to pay the rent, but it's still better than having no money. If it hurts you to do a certain exercise, is it better to do no exercise or better to do $10 worth?

If you can't figure that one out, I can't help you.

If you hate it, don't do it

If you have been told that you MUST do twenty minutes of aerobic exercise every day but you hate it because it hurts, or you hate to sweat, or it's boring you to tears, don't do it.

Yeah, the person who does force themselves to do it might live a little longer.  Is it worth living a little longer if you have to hate twenty minutes of every day to get that?  I say it isn't.

Medical Restrictions

Do I really need to remind you that if you are not currently exercising you need to talk to your doctor before you start?

Maybe you just aren't cut out for it

Maybe exercising just isn't for you. Yes, I'm probably going to outlive you because I do exercise. Yes, I'll likely be healthier and happier and suffer from less pain. But it is your choice, isn't it? While I'm suffering at the gym, you'll be enjoying your life, right?

Except I don't suffer.

Remember what I said about the $10.00? Maybe you can't pay the exercise "rent". If that's 500 "exercise dollars" (to use a made up measurement) a month, maybe you can do 200. Or 400, I don't know. Maybe some months you'll do 800 and others you'll do 100.

That would describe me pretty well. As I said, I don't obsess over how much exercise I did or didn't do.

Here is what I do and don't do.

I hate running

I never liked running. Runners high and all that? You can have it. Running is boring, it hurts my feet and I have never, ever seen anyone who runs long distances regularly and looks healthy. To me, they all look like death warmed over and most of them end up with joint problems.

If you are a successful runner without pain and you look healthy, I am happy for you, but look around you: you know darn well you are unusual.

So I don't run. I walk. For the same distance, walking burns less calories because running actually involves a lot of upward motion. But if you walk really fast, you can actually burn more calories because walking fast is very inefficient.

Does it matter? Again, it's a choice. So you were going to run a mile but you hate it. So walk more than a mile.

I don't walk in the rain. I don't walk in the snow. I don't walk if it's 90 degrees or 32. I walk when it's nice out and when it's safe - daylight, and facing traffic. Old people live here: I keep my eye on every approaching car.

I often walk down to get our mail. It's just under 4 miles round trip and sometimes I get something heavy to carry on the way back. Last week my wife got in 10 lbs of bed covering from J.C. Penney. Coming home with that was a good workout!

Walking leg squats are one of my favorite exercises
Walking leg squats are one of my favorite exercises

I like squats

I like walking squats. You get the idea from the picture at right. You just walk along doing squats as you go. It's hard, especially at first. When I started doing these, I couldn't do very many, but now I can go a few hundred feet. It gets my heart pumping.

The great thing about these is that I can do them anywhere. When I get up from my chair to go get a cup of coffee, I squat walk to the kitchen. Yeah, it looks silly - so what? It's part of my "exercise rent".

I use these barbells to keep strain off my wrists
I use these barbells to keep strain off my wrists

Pushups and pull ups and dips

My wrists have a little arthritis, so I do pushups using barbells. I've seen very fancy and pretty expensive pushup bars on TV; these barbells work just as well.

We used to have a pullup bar in a doorway. The one at our gym is better, so I use that when we go (once or twice a week). They have a dip bar there too, so I use that. Dips and pullups are among the best upper body exercises there are. I don't bother with the machines; these are plenty enough.

Yes, you can

You can't do a pullup or a dip? Maybe you can't even do a pushup?

Whatever it is you can't do, do it in reverse. Stand on a chair, grab the pullup bar and let yourself down as slowly as you can. Do the same thing with the dipping bar or pushups, just let yourself down as slowly as you can. In a few weeks, you'll be able to go up instead of down.

The barbells

I pick 'em up now and then at home. Wave them around a little. I don't do a lot because I have an old shoulder injury that can snap into new pain if I'm careless. The dips and pushups don't bother it because they are slow, controlled motion. The free weights can if I'm not careful.

A 4 lb weight ball
A 4 lb weight ball

Medicine Ball

My wife used to be healthy enough that we could toss this 4 lb ball back and forth. She can't do that any more, but I can still toss it up in the air and catch it. We have a 10 lb ball at the gym; that's even better.

This is a potentially dangerous exercise. I don't try to throw it very high, because 10 lbs bouncing off the top off my head could literally kill me. However, it is a fun aerobic workout if done with care,

Exercise Ball

When we are at the gym, I do sit ups on the big exercise ball with the 10 lb medicine ball on my chest.

Jumping benefits

At home, I just jump in the air every now and then, trying to touch the ceiling. It's too high, but that's not the point, is it? Jumping is good exercise. It's a squat, it is explosive power from the legs, it is stretching toward the ceiling, it is weight bearing from the landing and that landing also involves balance - a pretty good combination, I think.

Our old Health Rider is still a great machine
Our old Health Rider is still a great machine

Our Old Health Rider

We bought this HealthRider decades ago and really recommend it. I bet that if we had bought a treadmill that long ago, it would be worn out and useless by now. There's really nothing to wear out here, so it just keeps on working.

If you see one of these at a yard sale, you might think about buying it. If you have a place to set it up, it will probably never wear out.

It's kind of like a rowing machine but with a little more leg work. It's boring, of course, but I hop on for a few minutees several times a day. Again, $10 is better than nothing. I don't do twenty minutes because I'd be raving mad if I had to spend twenty minutes doing this, but I can take three or four at a time. It's $10. Better than nothing.

There's a real rowing machine at the gym, Somedays I can do thirty minutes on that. Other days I get a cramp in my butt after ten. As I said when I started, I don't tough it out. If it hurts today, I go do something else.

Sitting is really bad

I used to be out at customer sites often, walking around from desk to desk. Even when I had to be in one place for a while, I'd often be standing rather than sitting.

Recent research suggests that sitting is really, really bad, even if you are doing regular recommended exercise. Unfortunately, working at home as I mostly do now, tends to gravitate toward more sitting.

To combat that, I started setting a small electronic timer for 20 minute stretches. When it goes off, I get up and jump around, do some energetic shadow boxing and leg kicking and so on. I don't do it for long: it's just enough to get my heart pumping a bit and move some fresh blood to unused muscles.

It also gives a break to my eyes - too much up close computer monitor use is not good for them either.

And that's all

Well, that's all I do regularly. I might go shoot a few basketballs or bang the punching bag a few times if we are at the gym. I might even climb on the Stair Climber for a few minutes. Again, no obsession, no compulsion, no "I must do this". I do what I feel like doing and if it doesn't feel good today, I do something else. Whatever I do, I'm kicking in a few dollars toward that "exercise rent". It all adds up, and if it doesn't add up to quite enough this month, the landlord is easy to get along with and he'll let me make it up next month.

I know when I haven't done enough, and I don't need the scale to tell me. I know because I don't feel right. If I do enough exercise, I feel good. If I don't, I don't - it really is that simple.

So, how about you? How do you pay your "exercise rent"?


Submit a Comment

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    It was a very good year. Some of the very best people were born then, especially in February and thereabout :)

  • Huntgoddess profile image

    Huntgoddess 7 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

    I'm also 62.

    Rock on, 1948!!

  • KKalmes profile image

    KKalmes 7 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

    Hello PC, I knew this would be good for a little laugh at your expense and I enjoyed it totally... and I am with you 100%. I figure two flights of stairs ten or twenty times a day if I'm doing a lot of laundry is good. I walk to any store that is within a mile, mostly because any farther and I can't carry my purchases back... cat litter can be a killer.

    I feel good, but I feel better when I don't eat an ice cream cone or potatoes... that's another story.

    For 59, I think I am in better shape than most except those who kill themselves to have butts that fit in a size 0... I never heard of such a thing... they must be ghostly... a size 0.

    Much fun... thanx

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    Very true, John. It is easier to maintain than go from unfit to fit.

  • John Holden profile image

    John Holden 7 years ago

    I'm so disappointed that's not your real hair, I might have to stop following you:-)

    My one golden nugget of advice;- it's much easier to stay fit than get fit.

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    No, I'd definitely fall off! I'll watch out, though!

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    Anonymous? No, that's me. I don't wear that clown wig normally, you know :-)

    I hope your surgery is a great success. I'd keep away from mountains, though. You might fall off.

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    I love your rent metaphor, Pcunix, as well as your near anonymous photos.

    You're a wonder, my friend-I'm not walking these days, and you know why...

    Once I have surgery, I'll be climbing mountains! Yeah, right!

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    Well, you don't have to like it, but if you really hate it, you either won't do it or you will be making yourself miserable. If you like it, that is great, but being neutral is fine too :)

  • Ingenira profile image

    Ingenira 7 years ago

    yeah, doing something you like is better than not doing anything.

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    Sportsmen often become very unfit as they get older because age prevents them from playing the sport. Watch for that as you age and substitute other activities.

  • LillyGrillzit profile image

    Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

    Tweeted/Fb/Digg! This is excellent! Permission to use moderation and "fair trade"! Bookmarked!

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    Good tips on exercise. Anyone, any age, any physical condition can do some exercises to get in shape.

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    Yes, jumping can be dangerous for old bones and joints.

  • telltale profile image

    telltale 7 years ago

    Thanks for the info about being at an age where exercise is more important than anything else. Picked up a bit of things about how to handle the situation. Do a lot of walking nowadays - dare not do too much as the old ticker may not be able to take it, definitely not the jump bit. :)

  • Pcunix profile image

    Tony Lawrence 7 years ago from SE MA

    Ayup. $10 is better than nothing.

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    I just started walking again. I live such a sedentary life I had to do something. Baby steps.