For awhile, I have been working (some many say obsessing) about remaining young or at least staving off the onslaught of old age. I'm not the first to search for eternal youth. Ponce de Leon searched Florida a half millennium ago looking for the fountain of youth-but to no avail. Therefore, we are left having to do what we can to assure health and happiness without that quick fix of that elusive elixir of youth.
I went to a mall in Indianapolis several weeks ago and arrived an hour before it opened. Realizing that I had some time to kill, I thought that I would do some window-shopping. It wasn't long before I became aware of the mall-walkers. Mall-walkers have been around since the beginning of malls, but never have I seen so many of them at one time. There were a hundred or more of these sweat suite clad seniors elevating their heart rates and exercising arthritic joints. Most of these geriatric jocks were power walkers and were on a mission. They knew the value of good cardiovascular health.
I soon realized that they treated window shoppers like we view little old ladies driving 40 mph on an Interstate in the left lane. They would shoot you looks with the message flashed like high beams on the highway, "Move it or lose it, sonny!"
It wasn't long before I decided that I best get out of their way. To avoid getting run over, I went to a fast-food restaurant that catered to these health conscious early-risers. I sat sipping my orange juice, when two things struck me about the mall-walkers. They impressed me by their dedication to staying healthy. When you consider the time it takes to get to the mall, exercise, and drive home, I truly admired their determination. However, as I sat there watching the walkers doing their laps, I also eavesdropped on several groups of resting mall-walkers. Their conversations didn't impress me; it depressed me. I am not a self-appointed conversation critic, but the rather superficial level of their very small talk troubled me. What troubled me about their conversations was that it was in stark contrast to their level of commitment to their physical health. It troubled me that they certainly weren't exercising their minds with anything other than superficial banter. I felt like I was watching elephants circling their burial pit just putting in time waiting to die. They were exercising their body, but they were allowing their brains to atrophy.
If you want to hold on to your youth or what's left of it, here are several suggestions that you might want to incorporate into your lifestyle:
1. Exercise your body each day. Talk to your doctor about a suitable exercise program and make it a part of your daily regime. If you don't have health, you don't have much of anything.
2. Exercise your mind. Don't neglect exercising your mind with the same dedication that you exercise your body. Reading, surfing the Internet, or having a hobby can provide the mental training that is needed. You can also stimulate your mind by becoming familiar with radio/TV programs that stimulate the mind. National Public Radio is a good place to start with the radio. As for TV, the History Channel, Discovery, A&E, TLC, or Travel Channels are all mind broadening programming.
3. Take educational trips. When was the last time that you visited a Chicago museum? The Art Institute, Field Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry are fascinating places to visit, and they often run special programs.
4. Take an adult education class. Learn to paint, play an instrument, become competent on the computer, or learn the latest dance step.
It is vital that we maintain healthy bodies and minds. They are not separated. Even if we see the necessity of exercising our body, we need to exercise our mental muscles just as much. In that way, we will do what we can to ensure a long, happy, and healthy life. We are human beings, not elephants circling our burial pit just waiting to die. Resolve today to have a healthy mind and body.