One of my favorite songs is “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger. (Note that the link to the song is actually a cover of the song, but it is an incredible cover; highly suggest you immediately stop reading this post and just listen to the song).
One of the lines from the song that has stuck with me over the years is:
“Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”
While Seger uses the line to share the pain of a love he thought would last forever, I remember the line really hitting home for me a few years ago when I was reading an article from the New York Times titled “What To Do Now To Feel Better at 100“.
Many of us were probably not aware of the importance of having an exercise routine or a healthy diet when we were younger and how that would benefit us as we grew older. But now that we are older, that is likely not the case (and certainly not for the members of the Write and Run 31 group!). I think most older adults (and hopefully lots of younger people also) are well aware of the many benefits of a daily walk or anything that gets your heart pumping, a strength training program, and eating consciously.
But at the same time, there are many of you who wish you didn’t know now what you didn’t know when you were younger concerning health and fitness. Some of the reasons for this “ignorance is bliss” mindset may include thinking that you are too old, that it’s too late now to start now, that you don’t know what to do, or that it’s all genetic.
Gerontologists have shown that the rate of decline associated with aging can be tweaked to your advantage by a variety of interventions, and it often doesn’t matter whether you’re 50 or 90 when you start tweaking (or twerking for that matter!. According to Dr. Lachs, director of geriatrics at the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, “You just need to get started. The embers of disability begin smoldering long before you’re handed a walker.” Lifestyle choices made in midlife can have a major impact on your functional ability late in life, he emphasized. If you begin a daily walking program at age 45, he said, you could delay immobility to 90 and beyond. If you become a couch potato at 45 and remain so, immobility can encroach as early as 60.
So even if didn’t know when you were 20 what the impact of ignoring your fitness for the next 25 years would be, well now you do, so do something about it. This way, when you are 70 you can think back and say I knew when I was 45 what to do so that I could be healthy and active at 70, and I took action. I started working out, I started eating better, I reduced the amount of stress in my life, and I spent quality time with family and friends.
If you would like to get some tips from those who have successfully made it to the century level, click here for their words of advice.