Playing is a big part of my plan. As I approach my retirement, I plan on taking on more activities that involve play; hockey, swimming, cycling, golfing and teaching fitness.
As a child I remember how much fun I had climbing trees, swimming, playing tag and jumping on inner tubes! Those were the best summers ever as I played. As I grew older, I stopped playing outside. As a 16 year old, I starting to do strength training in my brother’s gym, in our house and slowly began to understand the benefits of strength training.
As I attended University, I started to frequent a gym where I took a fitness class that my friend was teaching thinking that, eventually I would teach fitness classes too. Alas, that didn’t happen right away.
After University, I started a full-time job, got married, had kids and didn’t have much time for fitness or playing. I was too busy working day to day, taking care of a household and too exhausted.
Finally, after my last child, I started to play once again and joined a women’s hockey team. I then started slowly to play more, by cycling, learning to swim, running and strength training.
Over that period of time, I watched my parents age and found that my father who worked outside all his life and walked every day was in great shape, but my mother, who worked in a more sedentary role as a housewife was not as healthy. They both lived long lives, my father to 93 and my mom to 87.
In 2015, five years ago, (22 years after attending university), I finally fulfilled my dream and enrolled in YMCA courses and received my Group Fitness Certification to teach fitness classes. I have also since obtained my Yoga certification. I now teach several classes a week. I learned through these and other courses and literature, that exercise slows down our aging process, helps our cognitive abilities, strengthens our heart, bones and muscles. There are so many benefits to exercising as we age.
At my current age and activity level, I feel that I need to take fitness seriously, which includes strength, cardio and flexibility training because I would like to continue to play sports such as hockey, cycle, swim and golf for many years to come. The only way that I can continue with my ‘play’ activities and not get injured, is to continue with a deliberate fitness regime.
If I would have known then, what I know now, I would have walked daily with my Mom, when she lived with me. I could see her cognitive and heart condition deteriorate before my eyes. Had I known the benefits and had I been able to help her increase her physical activities, she may have had a better quality of life, towards the end.
It may be too late for my parents, but it may not be too late for you or your family members. It’s possible to keep ‘playing’ in life, even when we get passed 60, 70, 80 years of age and beyond. Here are three inspiring people that may help you or your loved ones to start and stick with a fitness program, whatever it may be, it’s never too late to start.
Mark Sertich is a 95 year old hockey player. He does his daily stretching and strengthening and also plays his three hockey games a week.
Ernestine Shephard started body building at 71 years old. She walks and runs 10 miles a day and trains daily with a group of ladies. She is the oldest female competitive bodybuilder in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Betty Jean McHugh started racing (running) in her late 50s. Since then she has run 20 marathons and broke many records for her age category and she is still a marathon runner at 90.
These videos show regular folks that decided to keep active during their golden years. It shows that these activities help to keep them feeling young and to keep them connected to others – something very important as we grow older.
Playing during my golden years is a big part of my plan These three individuals have inspired me to keep going with my plan. Who is inspiring you? What about you? Will you play?
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