Are You Looking Forward to Growing Old?

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  • March 13, 2014

Did you know that the simple belief that aging renders us useless, disempowered, irrelevant and less able to do the things we could when we were young is so powerful that it is likely to kill us 7.5 years earlier than those people who have an empowering belief of aging.

Sadly there are not many great icons for aging well in today’s world. Only one or two generations ago “elders” were revered, honoured and respected in society. Today, our older generation is generally considered a liability. The poor perception of aging today is leading people to look for a quick-fix to hide their wrinkles, zap away fat and hide their grey hair. Unfortunately, these people are finding that expensive short-term fixes don’t buy long-term wellness or vitalistic longevity.

I love Tommy Hafey

If you know me you know I have man-love for the late great Tommy Hafey. I’m attracted to the four-time premiership coach and AFL legend not so much for his achievements in football, but more for his achievements in health and longevity.

Tommy Hafey for me was the quintessential graceful ager. And his secret was that he would never let his age be an excuse for ANYTHING he did. The only thing I could get from Tommy in a conversation a few months before he passed was that he preferred running by himself at his age because he liked to go at his own pace. As you can see, I’m clutching at straws because that’s hardly an age-related comment!

No, Tommy Hafey did not have excuses for anything. Just like that great line, “You can have excuses, or you can have results, but you can’t have both”, Tommy chose results every time.

Tommy arose at 5:20am every morning to go for a 5k + run, swim in the ocean, complete hundreds of situps and push-ups, and he would work out in the gym every second day.

Now this workout regime was not the secret to longevity, but it is a perfect example of many a famous adage. “Age shall not weary them” and “age is no excuse” come to mind; but the question is, what impact does exercise have on aging well?

The research is pointing ever so conclusively that regular exercise, both aerobic (running, walking, dancing, swimming, etc.) and anaerobic (lifting weights & other weight-bearing exercises) is ESSENTIAL to aging well. Why? Because it prevents frailty, osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass. For a quick summary of this, watch this Dr.Oz video.

I remember doing a talk once for the Freemasons. I mentioned that Australia’s longest-lived man was World War 1 vet Jack Lockett. He died aged 111 and celebrated over 80 years as a Freemason. On reflection, Lockett proclaimed that the keys to his longevity were “early to bed, early to rise”, regular exercise and a constant focus on the future.

People like Tommy Hafey and Jack Lockett can teach us plenty. The simplicity of regular exercises, good quality sleep and a “light heart” goes a long way to making sure we live a long and dignified life. The wise question to ask yourself today is, “Am I exercising, sleeping well and relaxing regularly?” If you are not, when would NOW be a good time to begin?

Stay great,