Barbara, with respect, this is and isn’t true, to a degree. As with all things, it depends. I write on fitness after fifty. A while back I stumbled on some interesting research done at Ball State:
Exercise Wins: Fit Seniors Can Have Hearts That Look 30 Years Younger
We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay…
I happen to be one of those oldsters whose pulse, VO2 and muscle strength are nearly identical to someone half my age or even less. That does not make me young. What it does is make me a lively, healthy, vibrant 67-year old woman. My attitude is young. My body is aging. It’s aging well, but it is aging. No amount of denial on my part, no huge mountain I can climb or spicy horse I ride, and I do all of that and a lot more, is going to shave a single second off my life.
I don’t for one moment argue the points you’re making. Just this one about lifetime athletes. True, our exteriors sag and bag, but we’re pretty impressive underneath. But we are the exception, not the rule.
You and I both know that the body’s cells die and replace themselves constantly. The quality of what we put in (and I do NOT include ridiculous diets in this) and how we work those cells have a lot to do with our relative health. But we are still aging.
I saw a lot of Ageist materials, and then backed away from it when I got the sense that there were too many folks my vintage who are in denial. God damn it, I’m barking at seventy. YES I can run thousands of steps. YES I can do 100 men’s pushups. YES I can do those things and a lot more.
I am still barking at 70.
Living well, and getting through times like these have a great deal more to do with the mental hygiene of personal responsibility, being aware of our role as it relates to others. To not do so makes us potentially guilty of manslaughter.
I think that the irresponsible, devil-may-care, can’t-happen-to -me attitude that we’re seeing is appalling, at best, and damned dangerous, at worse.
I am at home, just finished an hour of kickboxing (kindly I look like a dyslexic camel, and my neighbors get popcorn and sit outside to watch) and am about to go hike a local mountain.
Keeping PLENTY of distance.
I am almost seventy. A healthy, hearty, badass seventy. But I AM almost seventy. To not respect that reality spits in the face of what it means to be human. We owe the Earth a body.
Laughter, hilarity, black humor in the face of black times, the ability to make light of what scares the living daylight out of us are skills that many of us seniors have. Better, to my mind, that we make an effort to share those gifts rather than potentially share the virus in an effort prove to everyone that 70 is the new 40.
NO. It’s not.
I LOVE being this age. I am deeply proud to have made it this far after an horrific history of rape and abuse. God damn it, I am so grateful. And I owe my species a responsible aging adult, not a puerile child in denial.
Rant over. Thanks for a good article.