Tag: graceful aging

Are You Needlessly Aging Yourself?

Dangle a time and effort saver in front of my face and my first reaction is – “I gotta have it!” Visions of ease (we all know I’m all about ease) dance merrily in my head until somewhere from the back of my brain a new “reality” creeps to the fore. I begin to see what all the lack of motion that comes with those devices begins to do to a body.

Huh? Seriously. Every time you stop doing something – be that carrying water, vacuuming, hanging laundry, reaching for things on the upper shelves – you limit your body’s movement potential. And when you stop using your body in more complex and demanding ways, you essentially tell your brain – “Nope, don’t need that skill anymore. You can forget about it.” Which is exactly what your brain does. It adapts to the more limited repertoire you’ve given it and it, and your body, become ever less adapted to a life that requires manual exertion and complex motion.

But, “I go to the gym,” you say. Great. Working out can be fun. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, social engagement (one of the best life extenders known to man) and defined muscles. But does it improve function?

How many people do you know who regularly work out who can’t open a jar of pickles, reach a glass from the top shelf, or complain that stooping to get something from under the sink gives them a backache? Well?

We humans are designed for movement. Lots of it. In infinitely varied ways. To live in a youthful body, we need to expand our movement potential rather than diminish it. (That’s a fancy way of saying “use it or lose it”.)

I’m not talking about hard labor. Excess is rarely appropriate. I’m talking about reclaiming movements like bending, squatting, reaching, stair climbing, walking, etc., that modern life and effort “savers” are slowly eliminating. Put movement back into your day and see if you don’t feel stronger, more flexible and, yes, younger.

How? Here are a few suggestions:

* Take the plates out of that drawer and put them back on the upper shelves.
* Take the stairs whenever you can.
* Running errands? Consolidate. Park once and walk between your stops.
* Ignore the pull-outs and bend down to reach appliances.
* Get on the floor to play with the kids (grandkids?), or watch tv or read.
* Take business on the road with mobile meetings. Walk with associates.
* Ditch the car. Walk the kids to school. Help carry their books.
* Try baking bread (kneading), whipping cream (stirring), etc. by hand.
* Walk on the grass, balance along a curb, hike uneven surfaces…

What other ways can you think of (and TRY) to expand your daily motions?

Living on Purpose

I can’t tell you how often I advise client to “get a life.”

When one of my clients wanted to get a job, almost everyone she asked told her “NO way. You’re in too much pain. Your body is a mess. You don’t have to work so DON’T do it.”

Mind you, this wasn’t just any job – this was her dream job, a chance to work at something she was absolutely passionate about. I understood what her friends were telling her – her body WAS a mess. But her body would be a mess whether she took this job or not.

What my client really wanted was not an excuse to avoid following her heart but permission to do so. I simply gave her that. She had nothing to lose and everything to gain so WHY NOT? If it proved too much she could always quit. But if she never took the risk, she’d never know what was possible.

Turns out she took the job. The decision to step outside herself proved to be the right one. Working at what she loved helped my client to not only rise above her aches and pains but to actually put many of them behind her. Working gave her a purpose. It also brought her joy. What more can any of us ask of life?

Moshe Feldenkrais often said that the purpose of his Method is to help people learn to live both their avowed and unavowed dreams. Having taken to heart the teachings of the master, I often advise clients to transcend their aches and pains and worries by finding a purpose that requires them to broaden their horizons and honor all that they are.

Now that advice has grown some teeth. According to the results of an in-depth study, people who have a purpose outside of themselves live more vitally and (and this is a big AND) are more likely to maintain their mental acuity even in the presence of the tradition plaques and other markers of dementia and Alzheimers.

Here’s the link to an article explaining the study and its results:

We all have something to offer the world. Ironically, when we offer ourselves freely it is we who benefit greatly. What will your gift be?