Monday, March 29, 2010


It’s in all the papers this week. Everywhere I turn, there is another fitness pundit setting out guidelines for people my age. It all sounds good on paper, but let me be the little voice of sanity in the wilderness of all the metabolism and cardio Nazis out there. Fitness is imperative for seniors, but I bet that those who are slinging advice to the over fifty five set are all IN THEIR TWENTIES.

I have been a real devotee of exercise all my life. I played racquetball, I hiked around with my dog. I have been a gym rat, a spinner, and I have personally worn out two treadmills. I am that old lady in the back of the yoga class, the one who can barely stifle my groans during the “downward dog.” I feel that I have earned my stripes, and thus am very qualified to respond to all the scientists, personal trainers, and Richard Simmons wannabes out there who are now recommending that women over 55 should exercise strenuously for at least ONE HOUR per day:

MY DOCTOR SAYS THAT I GET TOO MUCH EXERCISE. It all started with that little spare tire around my middle. T-shirts didn’t look that flattering any more. “Sucking it in,” which was always no big deal, became an exercise in futility. So, one fine day, I decided that I needed to beef up my exercise regimen. I joined a gym, and found the dizzying array of exercise classes to be so tempting! I joined an “ABSOLUTE ABS” class. That one required two sizes of exercise ball. I did fine with the small one, but fell off the big one so many times that I sustained serious rug burns on my knees and elbows.

Spinning was an appealing class. On the flyer, it promised a total calorie burn of 800+ in an hour. To me, that spelled hot fudge sundae, and so I enrolled. I did fine for the first ten minutes, but then the instructor forced us to crank up the resistance on our bikes, and the fun turned into agony. I persevered, however! No way was I going to give up—damn those torpedos, I spun at full speed ahead!

As a result, I have become addicted to exercise. I am not bragging, oh, no! Because, you see, my devotion to the gym has necessitated my building a close relationship with a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a massage therapist, and a heating pad. I have a stiff neck that just won’t quit. After spinning, my back seizes up. Yoga, which is great for balance and inner peace, caused me to pull a groin muscle. I fall off my MBT’s frequently.

And now, the pundits are telling me that I AM NOT DOING ENOUGH. I have to increase my biking! When walking, if I can still talk, I am not going fast enough! And I have to go for the burn seven days a week! This is just, according to those experts, enough to keep me looking as thin and fit as I did ten years ago. If I want to look REALLY good, like the real housewives in those towns, I have to do even more!

So I had this discussion with my doctor, article from the newspaper in hand. He looked at me, sighed, and as he wrote out yet another prescription for physical therapy for my knee, neck and that niggling pain in my wrists, he said this: “If your personal trainer jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?”

This got me thinking. I don’t eat animals, much. The only things with faces that grace our table are birds. We stoke enough fiber in our engines to do justice to a decent sized septic field. We have been organic since before it was in style. We take supplements and drink fucoidan. We floss, we exfoliate, and we meditate. What on earth are we thinking?

How many centenarians do YOU know who are having fun? Do any of them have friends their own age?


  1. I admire your dedication to fitness, really I do. I could watch others exercise all day while I sit here, sipping tea and munching on a Cadbury Creme Egg. While I have never smoked and never would (saw my dad die of lung cancer) this is more the kind of advice doctors SHOULD be handing out!


  2. Here, here! Let the slow, infrequent, half-hearted exercising begin :-)

  3. This one had me LOL.

    I'm getting to that place in life, too, now that my sons are young men. I do love exercise, but I can over-do it, too.

    This was a great post. Well, maybe not for everyone, but for me, it was great.

  4. BTW, I just became follower #100. Do I get a prize? Any workout equipment you want to share?

  5. Feel better for getting that off your chest? A great post, I'm sure most of us of a certain age will be able to identify with it.

  6. Thanks, everyone! No, I have no equipment to share, because I now leave all that to the people at the gym or the therapists! I am actually on my way to the gym as we speak...

  7. You and I view exercise in the same way: Lots of calories burned = a treat!! I think the guidelines are a bunch of hooey. I've read that 20 minutes every day is enough. (Perhaps that fact that I wrote my own exercise newsletter to tell me that should be suspect though.) You're so funny.

  8. Oh, my--I can so relate--in a sideways kind of way...I think I'll write a piece of my own experiences on my own blog..thanks for the inspiration. Hop on over to read it, if you feel so inclined:


  9. I believe that we "older" women are serving our country by exercising. We keep the massage therapists, doctors, and chiropractors in business. We create more jobs than the government ever will! A very funny post, Molly:)
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm following you now too. I thought my comment box was showing but if you don't see it, there is a little number of comments at the top of the post. You can click on that number and it opens. Sorry about that. I changed my template recently and it has a few glitches.

  10. Yeah, I remember my doctor telling me I couldn't walk anymore just because I had a little case of plantar fasciitis. I mean, palease. And he said, "Let me put it this way. If you had a broken leg, would you fix it by pounding it with a hammer?" Exercise will kill you.

    By the way, congratulations on the Erma Bombeck award!!!

  11. My thirteen year old just started running for Track. I was flabbergasted because I am not an athletic type, so I just assumed my children wouldn't be either. Go figure.

    I have a number of friends who are very fit--one of which is a Beachbody coach--but they are all older than me, look better than me, and make me feel like the world's biggest slug. And reading your post, I am reminded of my general slugness, and feel the urge to sit on an exercise ball or ingest some organic fava beans or something. And I say this just to show you that you have no need to alter your lifestyle. You, my dear, lead an admirable lifestyle.

  12. Love your blog! I've just joined.

    I, too, began regular exercise a few years ago and am really enjoying it. Have bad knees and joined Curves and it's working on various levels. I look and feel better and my knees are now happy.

    Regarding your comment about older, inspiring women, there are several who have made an impact on my life. I salute a couple of them in this blog post:

    Looking forward to keeping up with you in the blogosphere.

  13. None of us is getting out of it alive anyway, right?


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