You've heard it often: use it or lose it. That's true for boomers as well, because much of the so-called symptoms of aging are actually caused by atrophy — the weakening and wasting away of muscles that are no longer used as often.
If you're not active, and the major workout you do is just strolling around a golf course — yes, you will get those dreaded symptoms of age — slow and hesitant movements.
In fact, the biggest, and most preventable part of aging is the typical slowdown of movement. If people in the checkout line sigh as you fumble for your wallet and slowly pick up the grocery bags, it's time to start moving younger again; moving faster and stronger, not like the image of an old person. Best of all, it's easy to do.
First, frequent readers know that this column often mentions the benefits of training. But you can condition more than just your muscles. If you don't train to keep your movements fast, they will just naturally slow down. When your nerves and muscles are no longer able to make fast and precise moves, you'll start moving like an old person, fumbling and dropping things.
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Take one frequent scenario, keys or glasses or other small objects that seem to somehow slip out of your hand and land on the floor. Again, it's all about training. If you're not training to have a tight grip, the muscles used in a gripping action will weaken — atrophy — and the strength of your grip will grow less.
Correct this simple problem by practicing clenching your fist frequently, then pressing the ball of your thumb hard against the middle knuckle of your index finger. Within a short time, your grip will improve, though it may take some concentration to remember to use a tighter grip when grabbing something.
As for moving like a younger person: this takes mental as well as physical practice. First, you have to think about moving faster, it's something you must keep in your mind for mental conditioning. Next, practice moving faster. If you go into the kitchen to get a glass of water, don't just saunter, run! Practice running and moving your arms quickly to pick up the glass and turn on the water. Practice speedy motions as if you're involved in an emergency.
Several benefits come from moving super fast as you train to move faster. The most important is that your movements will automatically become more precise. If you're walking down a set of stairs, and you practice stepping a little faster than you normally do, your body will soon condition itself to the speedier pace. Your muscles will become more coordinated and more accustomed to making each step down a stair with precision. If you practice reaching for a phone quicker than usual, your hand and eye coordination will improve, and you'll soon learn to judge where your hand needs to be. Again, moving fast will force your movements to be more precise. That other sign of aging, finger fumbling, will soon disappear.
Use super speed for every movement you make. If you have to go into the bathroom, walk briskly. Reach quickly for the water handle, wash your hands quickly, turn the tap off as fast as you can.
You don't need to practice moving faster with every move you make. Do it five or more times a day, and that will be sufficient to train your body to move faster all the time. If you're concentrating on washing a few dishes while moving faster, you'll be forced to grip each plate and cup with precision, to make precise motions with the dishcloth, and to rinse quickly, while concentrating on not breaking a dish by banging it on the sink or tap. All of this will eventually sink into both your consciousness and muscle memory, and soon you'll be moving like you did 20 years ago.
Just remember, without constant concentration, your movements will automatically start to slow down again. Not to worry. When they do, just start moving faster for a while, until your perception and muscle memory catch up again. The biggest benefit? Others judge your age from subliminal cues, based on the way you move. When you're moving like a younger person, they'll never guess your real age.