Is Getting Older All in Your Mind?

is-getting-older-all-in-your-mindMany people who are getting older are stuck in their head. They have felt the stiffening muscles, the reduced energy and waning drive. Their mind has been made up; this is it. In fact, Kenny Loggins wrote the song, This Is It about the same situation. His father, a life-long athlete and typically full of confidence and a winning spirit was worn down from the hospital, illness and surgeries. Depressed and in his mind was sure he would not make it out of the hospital. During one visit at the hospital, listening to his father speak of dying, Loggins exploded, You’ve got some say over how this goes, ya know? This is it, dad. Make a choice! Loggins went back to the studio and wrote the song.

The fact is we have an overwhelming amount of say in how we grow older.

It’s Not Hell to Get Old

What makes getting older difficult is the perceived limitations. You can’t do things the way you used to. The free ride of youth is over and that change coupled with anxiety about what’s to come makes getting older weigh on you like a heavy burden. The problem is not a problem. It’s a situation that requires what you already have in spades.

Here’s how to use your hard-earned wisdom, maturity and patience to continue improving as you age..

Is Getting Older All in Your Mind?  Send Your Body a Message

Get out of your head and into your body! Pause, look inside yourself and rationally assess what is going on with your body, your physical Being. The ensuing clarity will show you that your body is giving you signals. You can’t live like you used to!

It used to be that your energy and strength were almost built-in. You woke up and it was there. In our 30s and 40s we could ignore and push through the mild stiffness and pain. If you are 50 or over, you can feel the evidence-based fact that you are aging—rapidly. But feeling yourself age is an important signal, a gift if you will. How you respond to this signal determines your state of health. If you allow the perceived burden to stop you, your body will receive the feedback message to slow down and prepare for quiescence. If you use the signal to get more active your body will read this message as code to grow. The bottom line is without signals from you, the default signal is deterioration.

Take Over the Controls

It has been said that getting old is not for sissies. Yes, and it could be fun. To maintain your Fly Fisher Fitness past 50 takes a lot of hard work. But the payoff outweighs the effort. The potent effects of exercise are a great justification to focus on you getting out there and doing more. The key to overriding the biological (cellular-level) messages of dormancy and decay is you taking over the controls. Do something everyday to tell your body that things are good and it’s time to grow.

You Choose

The way you choose to live determines your state of health, and your ability (beyond willpower) to stand in cold waist-high water for hours while staying warm. Like Sylvester Stallone says your competition is yourself.

If you are going to fly fish with vigor as you age, you’ll have to work at it. (this is the not for sissies part). Your body is an infinite bundle of miraculous biological processes with an amazing ability to respond to the demands placed on it. Keep reminding yourself of the goal, to be strong, flexible, agile and surefooted as you fly fish the world over for decades!  

Here’s How to Begin

There are two components to life: how long we live, lifespan or chronological age and healthspan, how well we live—the quality of your years. Healthspan is what we can influence through our efforts and we need to act now before disease or excessive decline in physical function sets in. The genes in my family are not particularly good so I train—constantly trying to increase health and fitness, strengthening my body to override the aging process and adverse family history. In other words, I make an intense effort to influence the daily expression of DNA.

Researchers have found the genes are about 20% of the equation. The rest is up to us. So, I work hard, leaving nothing on the table.

When people ask me what I am training for, I respond, I do not expect to add years to my life but I do expect to add life to my years

Exercise in Four Areas

The core elements of Fly Fisher Fitness are: Strength, Flexibility, Endurance and Balance & Coordination.

*Strength and muscle decline with age. Progressive resistance (weight) training can dramatically improve your musculature. Exercises include, push-ups, farmer’s carry (walking with dumbbells for grip strength), squats, deadlifts, arm curls, shoulder presses. Note, grip strength is both a good exercise and a good test of strength. Think grabbing a branch and keeping yourself from falling.

*Flexibility exercises can reduce pain, improve mobility and prevent injury, they include breath work, static stretching, and dynamic stretching.

*Endurance training can dramatically improve aerobic capacity and at its most basic involves strengthening your heart.  Numerous studies have reported that when heart health goes up, biological aging goes down. Think of swimming, bike riding, running, jogging, rowing, walking—long, slow movements that will help build endurance. Bonus- you can develop the extra component of mental toughness or grit here. It is hard to keep going especially when you are just beginning but each time you push beyond perceived limits, you get stronger and tougher.

*Balance & Coordination exercises can help you avoid a fall. Try single-leg balance exercises standing on one leg. How long can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed? For a challenge try single leg bicep curls holding the dumbbell (or pulling a band) in the opposite hand. 

*Always get a doctor’s approval before doing any exercising. Use common sense. If you are just starting out, use only body weight, work on the basics and develop a baseline of strength, wind, endurance, flexibility and balance.

Download a Quick Guide to Strength, Stamina and Sturdiness.  Want to do more than read? Use the contact form to ask about our Virtual Fitness Program for Fly Fishers and Outdoor Types.


The information herein is meant to be general guidance on fitness. It is not a substitute for consultations with a healthcare professional. Always consult a physician before making changes.

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