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Your Health & Wellness, Iss #038 -- The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Crowd
September 03, 2008

(Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle)

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Week of September 7, 2008

Table of Contents

* The AARP Crowd *

The AARP Crowd

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is an organization geared towards the 50 and over crowd. Considered 'senior citizens,' the AARP doesn't equate them with out-dated, one foot in the grave, nursing home candidates-and neither should anyone else.

As a member of the 50 and over crowd (I am currently 56 years young), I am anything but decrepit and ready for assisted living. Today I received my weekly Jet magazine, a weekly periodical geared to African-Americans. I was surprised to find an article profiling a 62 year old female bodybuilder.

This person (photo: left) formerly weighed 185 pounds at a height of 5 feet, 4 inches. Her husband, himself a weightlifter, encouraged his wife in her quest to restore her health. She began tackling the 'iron' and loved it. She decided to join a gym because her husband's weights at home were too heavy for her.

Making noticeable progress, she began receiving complements from people she met. She was encouraged by fellow gym members to enter a local bodybuilding show. She did. She entered the over-50 class and won it.

What's my point? Just this. Just because you reach the 50 year mark, or even the 60, 70, or 80, you don't have to sit back and become a resident 'couch-potato.' You'd be surprised at how many people that train at Diamond Gym in Maplewood, New Jersey (where yours truly works out) are 50 and over. And it has a member who is 80 years old, and another who is a youthful 86 years old.

All too often well-intentioned individuals coddle elderly family members into taking it easy. I know first-hand because my family does it to my mother (she's 78 years old by the way.) The only thing that seniors need to be careful of is overdoing it. They however should be encouraged to be active, and not sit around watching TV 24/7 or chit-chatting on the telephone.

A sedentary existence for anyone, let alone a senior citizen, is a virtual death sentence. I am not saying that everyone should go out and start bodybuilding, but physical activity to remain, or to become, healthy, is necessary.

God designed us to work and to be active. Our bodies respond and grow stronger due to physical stimulation. Not only will exercise keep your weight in check, no matter what your age, but it will keep chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes at bay too.

No AARPer has to have that all-too-common 'out of shape' look. You know what I mean-the extra padding that follows you where ever you go. Being 50 and over doesn't automatically have to equate to 20 to 100 pounds of excess baggage. Believe it or not, but a 50 plus year-old senior can give a 20 something year-old a run for the money as far as physical shape and health is concerned.

In other words, 50 and over doesn't have to be synonymous with nursing home, prescription drugs, osteoporosis, overweight, or any of the dozen of other negatives associated with seniors. The AARP crowd can be fit and functional, and enjoy the good life.

Are you, like me, a part of the AARP crowd? Then make it a life dependent priority to get moving. Start a walking program. This is an excellent weight-bearing exercise. Begin walking for as many minutes as you can, and then slowly, over a course of time, build it up.

Later on you can add a light weight lifting program. Weight lifting will allow your body to keep muscle which dwindles away as you get older. This is one reason seniors become less functional, and end up in nursing homes.

As an AARP member you may have retired from your job, but you haven't retired from healthy living. Now get moving!

Joseph Elijah Barrett.
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