Live young

Susan Dawson-Cook, M.S.

Remember when your mom told you to act your age? A request that made sense for you to obey as a youth might not be in your best interest now. Rebel against acting your age as an older adult and you’ll experience increased vitality, fitness and health. Living Young is just one of 25 Slim for Life secrets I share in my new book.

When peoples’ attitudes age, they may convince themselves they are too old to (fill in the blank) — watch what they eat, compete in athletic events, work out, wear shorts, wear bathing suits, wear Spandex or swim. And for that reason they stop doing these things and before long the appearance of their bodies starts to match their mindset.

If you’ve given up activities you love for committees and shopping trips, TV and other activities you somehow deem age appropriate, I suggest you reevaluate your priorities and mentally turn back the clock. If you’re doing exercise that “suits your age,” rebel and do something fun instead. When was the last time you saw a child on a treadmill?

Why shouldn’t you have fun being active, too? If you love to dance, take a class. If you once loved trampolining (I do), go for it, but be careful! Do you like horseback riding? Find a place you can go for a trail ride. That doesn’t mean you should go crazy and do things that will injure you. Just begin to reclaim your youthful perspective on exercise and you’ll find it easy to be active.

I’ve studied the habits of many very fit older adults and their workout schedules and attire closely resemble those of people half their age. They don’t use their age as an excuse to be sedentary or to carry around excess weight. They’re not embarrassed to wear a swimsuit because of a few wrinkles.

In 2008, I interviewed a 90-year-old Masters Swimmer who set several Masters world records. When I dialed her number, I worried that she might be easily confused or have trouble hearing; instead, she was enthusiastic and quick-witted. I soon forgot I was speaking to someone twice my age. She quickly showed her mind to be as agile as her body.

At the SaddleBrooke Fitness Center I see the same familiar faces nearly every morning. Women in their 50s, 60s and even their 90s, clad in running shorts, Spandex bottoms and/or tank tops that show off well-toned muscles. They do interval workouts and strength training workouts and core work and then head out to play tennis or golf.

Next time you head out to enjoy some youthful activity, why not step out in something bright and flashy that you imagine high school kids would envy? If it makes you feel excited about getting your body in motion, why not go for it?

Susan Dawson-Cook is a Vital Moves personal trainer, fitness and yoga instructor and the author of Fitter Than Ever at 40 and Beyond.