Sunday, January 17, 2010

If You Don't Use It, You May Just Lose It!

I'm a firm believer in the old saying, "If you don't use it, you'll lose it." It can be applied to so many things—cognitive skills, social skills, and physical fitness. Of course genetics, predispositions to various illnesses, and environmental factors also play a part in determining our health and wellbeing, but if you're healthy and choose to live a sedentary lifestyle, I really do believe it will catch up with you and eventually lower your quality of life.

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, I bet I'd be passing him out on the greenway. When our 3rd president died at the age of 83, he lived well past the life expectancy of his time (40). In fact he lived past the life-expectancy of men today! No one will ever really know why he lived such a long life, but I do think the fact that he walked 4 miles a day, had to have helped. He was quoted as saying, " The purpose of walking is to relax the mind." Unbeknownst to him, while he was relaxing his mind, he was keeping his old ticker in shape too! Way to go Tom!

One study comprised of 2,300 healthy men (with an average age of 70), found that men who exercise reduced their death risk before 90 by 20 to 30% (depending on how much and how often they exercise). Regular exercise is not a miracle cure, but what it does do is help keep blood pressure down, obesity at bay, help prevent type two diabetes from occurring, increase mental acuity, help keep cholesterol levels down, and help fight depression, just to name a few of the benefits.

If you're reading this and thinking, "This sounds all well and good, but I'm too old to start exercising", then think again. As I was reading The Greensboro News & Record (my local newspaper) Saturday, the following headline caught my eye—"Celebrating 77, One Lap at a Time." The article (by Jennifer Fernandez) was about 77-year-old, Cal Weimer who celebrated his 77th birthday by riding laps for eight hours around a local park for a total of 77 miles!

Now, I bet some of you are saying, "Yeah, I bet he's been an athlete all his life." Wrong! He didn't start riding until he was 72 when he found a mountain bike left at his house by a former foster child. He said it was tough going at first, but stuck with it and eventually bought a "serious" bike, a Sequoia. The article explained how Cal began logging his miles in a notebook and reading articles on cycling and exercise.

In 2006 he competed in the local Senior Games and even got a 3rd-place finish in the more competitive state games in 2009. The article quotes Cal as saying, " So many people my age, they're sitting all day long and watching TV and not using their minds...and not taking care of their aging bodies. I want to do the best I can. I'm pretty lucky to have lived all these many years."

So, when it's hard getting up in the wee hours of the morning for that long run or you're deciding whether or not to skip that afternoon run, think of Cal riding 77 miles on his 77th B-Day! You go Cal!


Anonymous said...

Great post! I'll think about Cal tomorrow when I want to give up on my long run! :)

RunnerDude said...

Hi unathleticrunner! Oh you won't give up. You go girl!

gene said...

great post. i see so many older folks my in line of work who have let their bodies go. they are all sick, and look much older than their biologic age says they are.
i, too, will think of this when i want to hit snooze tomorrow morning. now, off to bed!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Gene!Same here! Have a great run!

Anonymous said...

I've been running for years, but after moving to rural New Zealand at the age of 40 to become an olive farmer I stopped. I became too caught up with all the work to do on our 20 acres. No running. My overall health showed it. Even though I was active on the olive farm, I wasn't running. That led to weight gain, poor sleep, etc.

After a long break, I started running again recently. There’s a great road not far from our farm called ‘Te Muna Road’ – the name means ’secret place’ in Maori. It’s a great place for a run, and I’m back at it again.

Running in the country is a great, great thing.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Moon Over Martinborough!Welcome to the blog! Wow!An olive farm in New Zealand! That is so cool! Hard work, I'm sure though. So, glad you're back to running. I love all the physical benefits it provides, but just as much I enjoy the mental benefits. That ‘Te Muna Road’ sounds like an awesome place to run!!!

Kenley said...

Great post! I think there were other things at bay that helped keep Thomas J. alive as well.

buryblue said...

I often use the saying use it or lose it when in conversation with non runners when you get asked that question well why do you run? I guess as runners we must all get that question sometimes at a party which is sometimes accompanied by a pitying smile from one of your Aunts! Usually one or two will then go on to say doing all that running you will wear your bones out whereas most surveys suggest the opposite to be true. Welcome your thoughts on this as there seems to be some conflicting survey information on the web.

Of course the muscle that really appreciates your running is the heart

Thought provoking post

regards Paul

RunnerDude said...

Hey Paul! I have a few of those Aunts too! LOL!! You're a mind upcoming post is on running and your bones. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

I'm 51 now and have been running (off and on) for 35 years.

Over the last year I've discovered barefoot/minimalist running, running form, breathing techniques. I have a new found passion for running and I'm excited about my next 35 years of running!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Bob! Welcome to the blog! Barefoot running! Cool! I'll have to introduce you to our local Barefoot runner, Josh!

Lorenda said...

HI Runner Dude!
I did a paper on running and aging for my English class. (while most of my young classmates were doing their research on their favorite singers)
My main source was a study done at Stanford University that turned up some amazing findings. I also used the story of an 76 yr. dude who was in the October Runner's World magazine, I dug up some more info on him in addition to the RW article. I found there were some amazing stories out there, way more than I needed for my paper. I also interviewed a local 82 yr old runner and triathlete who told me that all his friends who scolded and/or criticized him in his 60s are now all dead or in wheelchairs!! This guy still drives and travels and keeps up a house and all that. There really is something to it, I'm convinced and I plan to still be out there running at least half marathons when I'm 80 and beyond!!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Lorenda! I'd love to read your paper! Great info!