Latest update: February 13th, 2014
For these men and women, age is truly a number that is meaningless.
So how do “young” seniors slow down, even wind back their biological clock? They do so by “immersing” themselves in the other tier of the fountain of youth – they exercise on a regular basis and ensure they remain at a relatively appropriate weight.
No matter how youthful your face may look due to cosmetic intervention, if you have low energy, and are flabby and bloated, you will across as “oldish.” Clothing that is tznisdik can hide those jiggly arms and heavy legs, but they don’t cover the slow gait, the shortness of breath after climbing three flights of stairs or the fact that you cancel plans because you are just too tired to put yourself together and go out.
Just like breast milk is the perfect food for infants, exercise in its various forms is life enhancing for young and old alike. Its benefits are multifold, as it augments and boosts one’s physical, emotional and metal stamina and strength.
Exercise rejuvenates and reinforces both body and soul, thereby delaying the ravages of time.
Several medical studies show that exercise can chase away the “blues” and improve your mood – just like an anti-depressant.
After working out, I usually feel more energized and thus more empowered to deal with whatever stresses are part and parcel of daily life: the annoying, fleeting ones, like a delayed flight, and the more complicated, long-term ones like a sick relative or friend. Life‘s challenges seem more surmountable when you feel imbued with vigor and optimism.
Getting into the habit of working out can seem quite daunting. However, if you look at exercise as a mitzvah, something that you are obligated to do, it can help get you started. Think of it like davening. I am sure many men would love to sleep an extra hour instead of dragging themselves out of bed and going to minyan in the morning, but they know that this is what they need to do, and so they exert themselves and go to shul. At some point, it becomes relatively effortless. If you tell yourself you must set aside at least half an hour several times a week to do some form of exercise – even if it’s something as simple as walking – then it will be something that will become second nature to you and not a chore.
You can use this attitude to help you lose weight as well. Consider the sugar and fat laden muffin you are tempted to eat as being treif. Just like you won’t run into a fast food place and get a cheeseburger and fries, viewing the muffin as being non-kosher will help you push it away.
I know deprivation doesn’t necessarily work, so a doable option is to pretend that eating the whole item is treif, that it’s “kosher” to just have a small amount of the high-caloric item you wish to devour. A taste is permissible, eating it all is not.
The Torah is very clear that we have to “watch over our souls” doing what we can to extend our lives, even if it means not fasting on Yom Kippur if it is life-threatening. So framing exercise and moderate eating as a mitzvah is not so far-fetched.
You will feel better – and your simchas hachayim will increase – because of the new and improved “younger” version of you!Cheryl Kupfer
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