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Fit at Fifty

Younger Next Year PT Gym Blog

The New Year always brings a fresh focus on life and allows us to start from a clean slate. Since my birthday is in January it is not only a new calendar year but also marks the beginning of another year of my journey through this life.  I turned 50 this year and gave pause to reflect on where I am in life, think of friends and loved ones that are no longer here, and reflect on what is really important. I hope that I am middle age, but we never know until the end, do we? If I die tomorrow, then middle age would have been 25.

My father died at the young age of 44. Technically that is a health risk factor for me, but I do take comfort in the fact that unlike him, I don’t smoke, don’t eat a lot of fried food and try to maintain a somewhat regular workout regimen. Now that I have reached this magical age, I am glad that fitness has been a part of my life since I was 14. I sometimes joke that I used to workout because I wanted to, but now I do it because I have to!

Relatively speaking, I think I’m in good shape. I don’t think I could be in the best shape of my life at this age since I trained fairly hard when I was in my 20’s and feel I was closer to my peak then. I can improve from where I am though and do intend to do that going forward. I think genetically we may be programmed to live a certain age, and we can improve or decrease our odds by our lifestyle choices and behaviors.

In my 20′s my focus was more on what I looked like whereas now it’s more related to health and wellness. If I were only concerned with keeping my body fat low I would eat Häagen-Dazs®, pizza, and cheese-burgers every day, because I know I can burn the calories if I am active enough. Doing so may even motivate me to workout harder in order to burn the excess calories. But I don’t eat like that often because I am concerned more now about what is happening inside my arteries, not just on looking good on the outside.

A great book I would highly recommend to anyone is “Younger Next Year – A guide to Living Like 50 Until You’re 80 and Beyond” by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, M.D. (2004). I read it in my early 40’s and it has even more significance now. Written by a physician and his patient, the book is not a medical journal or exercise book per se, but paints a vivid picture of what happens when we neglect our bodies. It’s a fun read with much practical information. If you’re not already exercising, after reading the first chapter you will be motivated to start moving!

From the book, I have listed below “Harry’s Rules” that I have adopted now that I have reached that golden year.

  1. Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.
  2. Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life
  3. Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
  4. Spend less than you make.
  5. Quit eating crap.
  6. Care.
  7. Connect and commit.