Creating Vitality in Your Life

When it comes to actively engaging in your positive aging, how are you doing?

How strong are you? An important part of leading a vital and engaged life involves improving your lean fitness. This means building muscle. Challenge your body a few times a week with resistance or bodyweight training that asks your muscles to do more. The improvement in strength and stability is something that will serve you well throughout each day in the weeks, months and years to come. You will be more able to actively engage in life, doing things that are fun and life-enhancing when you are stronger and mobile. Sitting in a chair all day, or living a sedentary life comes at a great cost to your health and well-being. The alternative to building your strength and improving your mobility is to neglect your body passively allow it to fall into disrepair, experiencing increasing limitation and more frequent aches and pain with each passing day. You want to be able to live your life rather than feel buffeted by and at the mercy of life, stuck on the sidelines, while other people are out doing things that are interesting and rewarding.

How fit are you? Take time each day to improve your overall aerobic health. This means dedicating time each day to moving your body. Take walks, go for a run, play some golf (without a cart), do some yoga, or find an activity where you can be moving around and exploring. Getting the heart rate up, (but not too high) is a great way to encourage your heart and muscles to become more efficient in what they can do. When doing any activity, get to the level of intensity where you can still hold a conversation without gasping. Do this for 30-60 minutes each day, rain or shine. Open your eyes and see what is happening out in the world. Instead of sitting around and casting about for diversionary activities such as watching TV, scrolling through social media or taking frequent naps, get up and get out. There is much healing and health promotion in simply getting out of the house and into the world.

How mindful are you? When doing those activities that are in support of improving your health, pay attention to what you are doing as you are doing it. Don’t go so hard or so long that you injure yourself. Especially if you are older, plan on taking the long and winding road to improve your health. Overdoing and injuring yourself takes you out of the game, and can keep you out of the game of life for some time as you recuperate. So pay attention. As you are doing an activity, be aware of what you are doing. Be mindful. It is often the case that our mind can convince us that we are younger, stronger or more capable than we are at present. Whereas we might have been able to go all out and return that cross-court tennis volley when we were younger, doing so now could represent an increase in the risk of having something unfortunate happen, something that could sideline us. Use the measuring stick of enjoyment and a slight challenge to evaluate your progress to better physical health.

Who do you love and who loves you? An important aspect of life that requires ongoing investment but that pays off many dividends is cultivating meaningful and mutually supportive relationships. When it comes down to it, the quality of our life is a direct result of the quality of our relationships. If you have cut yourself off from family, friends or have stopped interacting with others, know that the world is teeming with people. At last count, there are about 7 billion people living on the planet right now. Are you lonely? If so, take time to reflect on the cost of cutting yourself off from interaction with others. Introverts and extroverts alike can benefit from taking action and calling or texting a friend and making that effort to keep in touch with others. Read the local community newsletter and scan the activities that are going on today or this week. Show up, even when it feels burdensome to do so. Identify those activities that you value and have experienced as rewarding and invigorating and find out where those activities are happening. While you might begrudgingly have to get yourself to go to a gathering, most people will report that they feel better having gone out and connected with other people.

If you don’t take care of yourself, who will? When it comes down to it, the quality of your life is largely in your own hands. Unless or until you come to the realization that no one is coming to save the day, you will passively wait for someone else to come in and rescue you. No one is coming. Your life is your responsibility. If you choose, you can live a fuller and more vitally engaged life by greeting each day as a new opportunity to do those things that tip the scales in your favor. All of us want to live in a way where we are grateful for the experience of being alive. The decisions you make and the actions you take this very day are either leading you in the direction of living more fully, or they are leading somewhere else, somewhere most of use do not want be. Make the inner decision to be on your side. Show up.