Aging: A Case of Mistaken Identity

Do you remember when you were a kid sitting with your parents or grandparents watching those cheesy murder mystery shows of the 1980’s? Murder She Wrote? Hart to Hart? Matlock? There was always a prime suspect that never turned out to be the murderer. Instead, it was inevitably someone else who was always standing in the shadows in every scene. The director wanted your attention to be drawn to the suspect so that there would be a twist ending. Once you watched one or two episodes you caught on pretty quick that the murderer was never that person; it was always the unassuming character in the background.

The fact that the basic format for each show never changed was really an insult to the viewer’s intelligence. I think the same can be said of the aging process. Our society and the medical profession are so quick to turn the spotlight on the aging process for life’s maladies. Whether it is osteoarthritis or weight gain, degenerative disc disease or hip dysplasia, coronary artery disease or osteoporosis, poor balance or poor stamina, they all can place the blame on the prime suspect: growing old.

What if there was another suspect in the room standing in the shadows? The suspect no one had paid attention to because it often travels parallel with individuals as they get older? What if the real culprit was right under your nose but you chose to believe what the doctors, books, and magazines told you?

You are probably wondering why I called you all here tonight…I am going to reveal the true culprit….it was…INACTIVITY! (organ music in the background as the audience gasps). That’s right, it was inactivity all along. Inactivity was there in your childhood with you as you sat at your school desk. It was with you on the long summer vacation road trips and it is with today’s kids as they text on their phones and play video games. Inactivity slowly increased it’s power over your health and wellbeing as you matured into an adolescent and felt like playing tag and other physical games were only for little kids. More hours of homework, optional P.E. classes and hanging out with friends cruising in a car (instead of riding bikes) allowed inactivity to grip you tighter. Posture began to become distorted, circulation diminished subtly, muscular imbalances and joint restrictions increased, as more energy was being wasted on keeping further collapse from occurring.

After you finished school and entered your twenties you replaced college classes and intramural activities with a full time career. Chances are your career involved hours of sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time in a confined environment. Did a marriage and family life slowly diminish your active life too? By the time you became a grandparent the mindset of getting old had been firmly in place and reluctantly accepted. Did you begin to believe that you were too old for certain pursuits or activities? Did you chalk up your aches and pains to getting old?

Ever increasing amounts of inactivity have been there all along quietly existing as you went through life. If getting old was the reason for your body breaking down wouldn’t every single person your age suffer from the same issues? Those issues are beginning to occur at younger and younger ages as we advance in this technologically advanced society. Often we see some older athlete who stays youthful and vibrant stand beside someone slightly younger than themselves. The other person is inactive and appears much older. They complain of joint pain or arthritis; they take a small pharmacy of medication to counteract the effects of their inactive lifestyle.

Very few maladies in life happen because of aging. It is the lack of purposeful physical movement which cause the body’s functions to diminish, not growing older. Decreased circulation brings on greater cardiovascular stress. Tight muscles restrict joint motion which brings on compensatory movement that leads to arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and bulging or herniated discs.

Nothing brings on the symptoms associated with aging more than sedentary existence. The bottom line is this: start moving or start dying. Make a choice to embrace the aging process by staying active and prove that life continues to improve as we age, just like wine.

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