By now most of you know I'm a fitness trainer who focuses on seniors. I enjoy working with seniors (usually defined as age 50 and older). Even if you don't categorize yourself as a senior, organismal senescence is something that we all face. Aging.
"How will we age?" is the question we all have to ask ourselves, even fitness trainers like me. When I started training seniors, I was 25-years-old. Now I'm realizing my age as I approach the next decade that pushes me into the "senior" category.
I've heard many myths about aging through the years that I don't want to accept for myself as I age. I'm sure you've heard some of these. In the book, Successful Aging written by Rowe and Kahn (1998), they list six common negative myths about aging.
Myth #1: To be old is to be sick. A lot of people think aging and disease go together. With proper daily fitness training, you don't have to be old and sick. You can be old and well. I've read about people starting to train for marathons at age 89. Incredible.
Myth #2: You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Who hasn't heard this one? Dementia doesn't have to be a part of the aging process. Positive lifestyle behaviors can help prevent dementia and keep you learning new tricks to keep your brain healthy.
Myth #3: The horse is out of the barn. Just because we are getting older doesn't mean it's too late to reduce disease risk, improve our health and become fit. Studies have shown that muscle can still grow and become stronger for individuals even into their 90s.
Myth #4: The secret to successful aging is to choose your parents wisely. There's more evidence now that shows that influence of lifestyle and environment are more important factors in determining good health and ability than genetics.
Myth #5: The lights may be on but the voltage is low. Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you lose your interest in intimacy. The desire for relational intimacy can remain strong as you age. It can also be a positive factor for your continued health and longevity. Now that's good to hear.
Myth #6: The elderly don't pull their own weight. I see many older adults volunteering their time at local businesses, churches and civic groups. Many organizations depend on their volunteer contribution of time and effort. There's also a trend of more older adults working past the typical retirement age.
If you choose to remain active and healthy, these negative myths won't apply to you. I want to be a negative aging myth buster. I'm sure you do, too. Eating well, sleeping well and exercising daily can help us.
Here's to you living well.
About the author: Jonathan Souder is the fitness director at Manor House, an ACTS Retirement-Life Community in Seaford. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.