I play competitive soccer and hockey, and my preferred workout is boxing. I’m in my early 50s. When people ask me what I do for fun, and I give them this response, many tilt their heads giving me a perplexed look. I know I shouldn’t make assumptions, but my assumption is they think I’m crazy. In fact, I had a relative tell me that engaging in these sports at my age was irresponsible.
He questioned, “You have kids to take care of. Plus, what if you get hurt and can’t go to work?”
I curtly responded, “What if you walk out the door and get hit by a car?” That was 15 years ago. To say the least, I was not deterred.
To be fair, I’ve had my share of injuries; however, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Doing what I love brings me joy. My fellow aging teammates all have a zest for life. The saying, “Your vibe attracts your tribe” is true. I’m one of the youngest in my group of friends. Many are in their 60s, and one feisty gal just turned 70. By continuing to play, we elevate our mood with the natural release of endorphins, we battle against unwanted pounds brought about by menopause, and we have a built-in support network. The physical activity combined with the social support helps us look and feel young.
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Staying active does not require running around a soccer field, but it is important to get up and move. Swimming is easy on the joints, and you don’t need a gym membership to walk. Besides being physically active, it’s important to stay mentally active. My mother, who is in her late 70s, exercises her brain by playing bridge several times a week. It is essential that we continue to build connections in our brains as we age. Try something that you’ve always wanted to do– it’s never too late. Take a class at a local community college or check out the programming at your local recreation center.
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Here are a few more ways to stay young:
1. Travel as Long as You Physically Can
I read a quote that stated, “Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.”
Keep having adventures even if you journey only a few miles away. Explore a local museum, park, or farmer’s market, or take the trip that you’ve always dreamed about.
2. Make Young Friends
Hanging out with young people keeps us relevant. Moreover, this symbiotic relationship gives older and younger people an appreciation for each other. Younger people can teach us how to use the latest technology, while we can offer them the wisdom of our life experiences.
3. Cultivate a Positive Attitude
Have you ever wondered why some people become old and grumpy while others greet each day with joy? It seems like the grumpy ones tend to marinate themselves in misery. They commiserate with each other about the good old days and the awful state of this world. They feel compelled to complain about their aches and pains to anyone who will listen. Vitality, however, is a state of mind. If we wax nostalgic about what we used to do instead of celebrating what we can do, we will never do anything – but complain.
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As we age, we have more time to give back. Helping others is a surefire way to stay young. When we do kind acts, oxytocin is released in the brain giving a boost to our immune systems. In addition, volunteering gives us purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Finally, continuing to work with others as we age keeps loneliness at bay, and multiple studies have found that lonely people die prematurely.
5. Exercise Your Creativity
There is something about the creative process that feels exceptionally good. I’m not sure if it’s the sense of accomplishment attained after creating something new or the blissful feeling of being lost in the moment where one’s thoughts are focused only on the task at hand. When I’m creative, I feel like the child that drew and colored a ‘refrigerator worthy’ super cool picture or built a magnificent city out of Legos.
6. Be Grateful
Sometimes, we forget that every day is a gift. As soon as you wake up in the morning, find three things to be grateful for. If, on a bad day, it is difficult to find three then find one. I often think about my cousin who passed his 20s. He never had the opportunity to grow old, for if he had, I feel certain he would have approached each day with a youthful sense of enthusiasm and exuberance. For all those who passed too soon, let’s stay young at heart by intentionally creating a life of meaning and joy.
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