Increase in inactivity as we age

I am 74 years old and just coming off of a 3 year period of almost no physical activity. Sitting at my computer smoking cigarettes, just taking out the trash would have me slightly huffing. For at least 5 years before my complete shutdown, I had started slowing down. About 3 months ago I started a remodeling project at my girlfriend’s house. Nothing major, paint, tile, vinyl plank flooring, window coverings, a little cabinet work, baseboard, built a wall and cut in a couple of new windows. I made a commitment to stay with it for 8 to 10 hours a day even if 80% of the time was spent resting. Every single day I felt like I was beat to my core and it didn’t seem like it was getting better for almost 3 months. The difference was that I didn’t notice was my rest periods were becoming less frequent and the amount of time working was longer. Even though I still have a way to go I can now put in a full day’s work at a medium pace. I finished up the project, made sure I was the first one to do the deed in the newly remodeled master bedroom, broke off with the girlfriend and went home and sat on my ass for almost two weeks. yesterday I went back to work and put in almost 10 hours of cleaning, yard work etc.Motivation seems to be my problem, if I have not motivation, I don’t do anything. How do we stay motivated??

Well, you’ve got more than a few years on me, but I’d suggest using the same strategy to kick any other habit: You focus on how much you prefer to be clear-headed, have a clean house, be in shape, etc. and on how much you dislike the opposites of those things.

Learn to identify the aversion and get used to rejecting it on the spot. Getting a healthy routine in motion is going to be harder before it gets easier, and it sounds like you already know that (no condescension intended).

Since Alzheimer’s runs in my family, and I have a genetic disposition for it, regular exercise will hopefully delay onset 5 to 10 years before it should start happening, which for me is in just a few years. That’s my motivation. I have grandkids I would like to see graduate high school…

I feel for you.

I suffer from “my get up and go got up and went”. If there is something to do, I will do it. But I don’t create things to do, because I just don’t have the energy any more. And it pisses me off!

And, every afternoon, I just HAVE TO TAKE A NAP. And that pisses me off too!

Frankly, I watched as my mother progressed to the point where she could not walk across a room and was trailing an oxygen tank for the last 10 years of her life. I’m about the age she was when that really got noticeable. There are definitely lifestyle differences between her and I, but there is also a distinct genetic inheritance component that is at play. I do not relish the possibility of her fate.

After I retired I sat next to the refrigerator a lot. Then, I reached a weight number I did not like, At age 67 I started walking for at least 30 minutes twice a week. I met some people at the track and that kept me going. Later a friend moved to our town and she and I began walking five days a week for about 2 hours. Now, at age 76, I still do that walking. My weight has stayed put at the right number for the past 6 years. I am beginning to incorporate some weights to keep my arms from just hanging there, but I have to say that not gaining weight got me started and having someone to walk with (which means someone to be accountable to if I don’t walk!) has kept me going.

TLDR: get a plan and get a partner.

Two hours! That’s awesome @kayT !!

My mom is 71 and is having a (hopefully temporary) problem with her leg, so she uses a walker. We live in the same neighborhood and I walk my dogs every day. I “pick her up” on my way around the block and we go at her pace once around the block.

I don’t think she likes walking at all, but I do think she likes being outside and chatting with me for a half hour. Sometimes she asks me to remind her why she is dragging herself around the block. I told her it’s for when her leg is better, she’ll be so much further ahead than if she had sat down for 2 years. I believe that, and I hope she does too.

I would seriously consider switching to vaping if you don’t want to quit smoking.

The difference is like night and day.

Not that vaping in good for you. All I can say is I was never able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes when I was smoking cigarettes as I can when vaping.

If you have dogs, take them on a couple of walks a day. This way rather than trying to come up with self-motivation to go for a walk, you are doing a task of walking the dogs. After a few days of regular walks, the dogs will soon get in the habit and will remind you to take them for their morning and evening walks.

You can volunteer for organizations which have a lot of activity as part of their service. For example, volunteering for park maintenance or Meals on Wheels will have you moving around a good bit.

It is very important to stay active as you get older. Your body declines faster and faster the less activity you have. This can lead to simple ailments becoming life altering. For example, if someone is weak from being sedentary, a small slip might mean they fall and end up breaking a hip. A full recovery would require physical therapy, which is made harder if they are already weak from an inactive lifestyle. They may slack off on the PT, which means their recovery suffers and their mobility is reduced. They may end up requiring a walker or wheelchair to get around. If they don’t do any PT, the injured area may release blood clots that lead to stroke or death. But if instead the person is regularly active, a small slip is inconsequential. The person has sufficient strength to catch themselves rather than fall. And if they do fall, their stronger bones are better able to resist breaking. And if they do end up breaking a bone, their stronger muscles and activity habits allow them to properly complete the PT and recover as best as possible. It’s absolutely understandable that many people don’t have the motivation to be active, but the consequences of inactivity can lead to conditions that greatly reduce a person’s quality of life.

One of the perks of moving into this retirement community is that there are exercise classes five days a week, so the only excuse not to go is shear laziness. They’re not rigorous, exhausting workouts, just mostly stretch, balance and light weight work taught by a physical therapist from a local hospital. But even three times a week means an hour and a half of NOT sitting on my ass doing nothing.

Health insurance companies realize this, too, so some of them have programs designed to encourage seniors to be as active as possible. A colleague at work whose mother has United Health Care told me about a “Silver Sneakers” program they have that allows her mother to go to the L.A. Fitness near her without having to pay the membership fee that she really couldn’t afford on her own. Seniors should investigate the options their particular health insurance provides. There may be great deals of which they aren’t even aware.