Saturday, February 28, 2009

Exercise At Any Age

cycling, exercise, grandparents, men, women, handball, boomers
Eugene, Oregon is the birthplace of runners, joggers, Nike and bicyclists. The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials were held in Eugene in June 2008 because of the outstanding track at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. 

No, I am not tooting our green and yellow horn. But those of us who have experienced the tightening joints of the years gone by or the aftermath of knee and hip surgeries, do not have to watch these bygone days of physical aptitude from our recliners. 

Granted, Oregonians have the webbed feet for this pursuit, but statistics show that swimmers have a lower mortality rate than those huffing and puffing out on the track. The new study from the Journal of Aquatic Education and Research  conducted by Dr Steven Blair of the University of South Carolina, concludes that swimming cuts men's risk of dying by about 50 percent compared to runners. The findings are based on medical and physical activity data using ages 20 - 90 year old men.

This weekend I had the opportunity to witness a handball tournament for the first time. I watched as 2 - 4 sweaty men ran up and down in a small room with a wood floor, bouncing a small blue ball off the walls. My friend, Doug Thompson is an Economic Developer, Strategist and Consultant based in the Northwest. He came from Boise, ID to play in the tournament. He is 58 years old and describes himself as a fat, bald white guy. He loves this game and plays it on a regular basis. He is not at the end of his game playing days by any means. He tells me about guys in their 70's playing this game on the Boise handball courts. 

Joe Cox, one of Seattle's finest and in his 60's, is one of handball's greats. He is playing in the tournament this weekend. He is well known for beating players half his age. Handball stands out from other sports because it is accessible to people of all ages and strategy is often more important than physical ability. 

Doug not only loves handball but he is also a bicyclist. He has registered to ride in Cycle Oregon in the Fall of 2009 and once again finds age to be no obstacle to his enthusiasm. With 2,000 plus riders traveling 70 miles a day for a week through the beautiful landscape of Oregon, this is truly an endeavor for even the best of cyclists. I have also had the opportunity to witness this wonderful event, although I must admit, my idea of riding a bike is getting from point A to point B, not pedaling up mountains. But again, you will find all ages participating in this event with median ages over 40 years old. 

It seems if we are to stay young at heart, we must work the heart as it was intended. Instead of offering it cholesterol laced fast food and junk food, we should be treating it to a workout of swimming, playing handball, or cycling. The old saying use it or lose it definitely applies here, so although I will be shooting pictures of my dear old (referring only to the length of time I have had the pleasure of his company) friend sweating on the handball court or pumping the pedals through the Cascades, I have every respect for his sweating for survival. As for me, I prefer the more gentile approach such as yoga, pilates, and walking. 

Whatever gets your heart racing, just do it! Live long enough to take your greatest revenge - beating your kids at their own game - staying young! That's what a wise grandma would do.

No comments: