Exercises for Later Life
Y oung muscles that are not used come to resemble the muscles of the aged. To a very considerable extent, the reverse of that statement is also true: symptoms of aging may in fact be symptoms of disuse. Many senior citizens who exercise can hold off these symptoms and succeed in preserving a youthful appearance, psyche, and level of fitness.
The mention of “psyche” is important. Upon entering his 60s, or the retirement period, or any significant stage of later life, a person may feel that he is dying a small death. He may find it difficult to face the changes that later life brings: reduced involvement, more time to think about himself, a sense of diminishment and decreased importance, and so on.
He may find it less difficult if he has remained physically active, or if he can become physically active. By retaining some vigor, he may also retain a positive feeling about himself. He may have greater courage, and thus be able to try out new and stimulating experiences. He may move with greater ease and grace, presenting a trim and attractive figure. And the fit older person has a degree of independence that his less fit neighbor does not have. He need not call on friends, relatives, or others for help. He retains a large measure of personal freedom.