How old would you be, if you had no idea how old you really were?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Motivation for Getting and Staying Fit

There's a saying in amputee circles (and that's a pretty exclusive club), "Amputees do what amputees want to do." In other words, if you have to face the world without the luxury of one or more of your limbs, your only real limitation is your self. Get to know amputees and you will find them doing all sorts of things, water skiing, running marathons, mountain climbing, that you might have thought were out of the question.

That same sort of thinking also applies to us older citizens. You want to be careful as you get older that you don't let the number of years you have under your belt start to limit your activities. It's easy to begin to shut down and accelerate our own aging. The answer might be to forget about the numbers and just do what you want to do, what you feel like doing. For example racquetball might not be on the menu for most 80 year olds, but I've played with a couple of 80 year old racquetball players who were still very competitive. My mother in law, was still a very good driver in her early 90's.

Both of my parents were dead and gone before they reached their mid-fifties, but in my wife's family everyone is alive and kicking right into their nineties. I'm looking to my in-laws for inspiration and example. Probably makes sense to avoid our peers who are reveling in their ailments and hang out with friends who don't seem to know how old they are. It really is possible to push the limits of our genetic inheritance with a positive attitude.

My version of pushing the envelope at 70+ has been to join the local volunteer fire department. I don't really expect to charge into burning buildings but I am learning how to operate the pumps on the engine and am scheduled to begin EMT training next month. So far the biggest problem has been how to quickly get the bulky "turnout" pants on over my prosthesis.

The down side of this experience has been living with some anxiety about knowing what I'm supposed to be doing on calls, most of which are medical EMT calls, and worry about getting up and out when calls come in the middle of the night.

The pluses are some really interesting and exciting experiences, learning a whole new set of skills, and increased motivation to exercise and to stay in good physical shape. A big plus has been the opportunity to get EMT training. In the past I've been a pretty good student and test taker. Will I, the oldest member of the department, be able to handle the training and the testing? Oh yes, it may be difficult, but I know how to study, and have the time to do it. And I expect that the course work will help keep the synapses in this old brain of mine firing and connecting.

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?

No comments: