Sunday, July 29, 2012

Growing Older (But Not Up)

A comfortable mountain bike!
You may recognize that title from a Jimmy Buffet song.  It has special significance to me. Here is why.

It is no secret to my friends and relatives that I am fighting the aging process, tooth and nail.  I know I can't win, but at the same time, I have seen real improvement in my overall health and happiness as a result of this effort.  I am encouraged and inspired, yet still frightened and alarmed at how fast the days go by.

There is a television commercial that has been showing lately that features a young woman, sitting in front of her computer, explaining how her parents were getting older and weren't living life to its fullest. Unlike her, they had very few friends on Facebook. Cut away and we see her parents riding their mountain bikes through the woods with another couple and then stopping at their new car.  Why do I bring this up?

Yesterday I bought a mountain bike. Well, technically, my wife bought it for me for my upcoming 58th birthday.  Of course, it has a "comfortable saddle" and an upright stance, to minimize the aches and pains!  In the first 24 hours that I had it home, I put nearly 15 miles on it (all road miles, so far), despite the awful heat and humidity that enveloped the Florida Panhandle.  I am not bragging - just letting you know that it is a new toy I intend to use!

Yes, I know we have no mountains here, but that's not the point.  Instead, the point I wish to make is this: life after 50 is very different for boomers than it was for our parents.  My father probably never rode a bike after age 30!  I don't want to live like that, and I hope you don't either.  And that is what this blog will be about: being active and healthy as we gracefully age.

When I went to the newsstand today to pick out a magazine about biking or running, the pages were full of photos of much younger people enjoying the hardcore aspects of their sport.  The old timers had their own columns about the good old days, or were giving advice, but the publications were certainly not aimed at my demographic.  So, out of frustration, I started this blog.

Many of my fellow boomers are living healthy lifestyles.  They may be a bit slower than they were in their younger days, but they are indeed worthy of consideration.  Perhaps you are one of them. If not, perhaps you can be!

So, why do I care?  For me, my wake-up call was a health crisis.  Nothing too serious, but enough to get my attention.  I will blog about that at a later date.  For now I will just lay out the general theme I hope to follow with this electronic journal.

Topics I will be addressing...
  • Is there really life after XX? If so, how does its quality compare to life before XX? (Are our best years really behind us? I doubt it.)
  • What can you do to improve your health, from here on?  What is possible? 
  • Getting and staying active.  Can exercise really slow the aging process? What kind is best? How much and how often? Awe, do I really have to?
  • How can we improve our social lives?  Loneliness is a major cause of depression and poor health!
  • Can technology help us stay fit? I'll review interesting gadgets and apps that could help.
  • Healthy eating - I love to cook, and maybe we can share some recipes and strategies for eating better.
  • Whatever else interests me and my readers.
It's odd. Me, publishing a blog.  Thanks for reading.

Mark Horrell
About me...

I am Mark Horrell, Ph.D.  I am not selling anything. I am not a fitness expert or guru.  I am a college science professor who woke up one day to find I had high blood pressure, a slightly damaged heart, and was 50 pounds overweight.  A real couch potato.  I realized that my lifestyle was shortening the length and reducing the quality of whatever time I have left.  Over the past year and a half, I have turned my health around by improving my diet and exercising regularly.  I have lost those 50 pounds, added muscle mass, lowered my blood pressure, and dramatically improved my endurance. As a scientist, I approached this transformation like a research project, and I have learned a lot that I hope you will allow me to share with you. I also hope to learn from those of you who have had your own successes (and failures too).

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