Monday, 8 February 2016

on being middle aged

A recent news item triggered some thoughts on middle age and health. According to a recent BBC news item on a study published here, individuals between the ages of 45 and 59 report to be least satisfied with their lives and less happy than other age groups. I haven't got the leisure time to delve deep into the study but the graphs are quite telling. The data  is from the Annual Population Survey from the National Office for Statistics.



Personally, I am quite happy with my life. I don't mean to suggest that I buck the trend but I don't think I feel any less happy than I did 15 years ago. Nor am I more anxious I don't think. I certainly think my life is worthwhile. There are a lot of stressors in my life, as there is in anyone's and I can see where the data is coming from.

Having said that, there are moments when I think my body age is not in sync with my mental age. Do you get this feeling sometimes? I am constantly surprised about the picture our mirrors reflect. Surely that creased, tired and limp haired creature is not me? In my mind I look quite differently. In my mind, I feel quite differently. I am convinced that our mirrors are part of a larger conspiracy to sap life energy from perfectly happy beings :-) 

But lets not digress. My body is definitely more tired than my mind. I can't blame my age, there are many fit and healthy middle aged people. I have gone from running half marathons to barely crawling 500 metres in a very short time. Over the past few years, I have started making excuses for not keeping fit. I have first given up my yoga classes, then, gradually my regular runs. I managed another half marathon at some point but it was a depressing experience, nothing compared to the feeling of achievement in previous years. Slowly, my weight has increased. A lot. My body is tired and sore more often than it should be. I am getting out of bed slowly and don't rush up the stairs much. I sometimes find it painful to open a jam jar. 

There appears to be plenty of evidence that such pains are at least partially due to weak muscles. There was an interesting Radio 4 programme on recently that explains some of the facts behind this (if you don't fancy trawling the scientific literature). 

A recent visit to my GP has confirmed that there is nothing wrong with me. I am just unfit and overweight. Like so many. So, with not 'good' reason not to be fit and healthy, it is time to stop pretending my physical decline is inevitable and due to age and time constraints. I am not old and I have shown good time management skills in other areas of my life. We have a gym on campus and I have renewed my membership (a bargain at £15 a month). I am now going to body strengthening classes with my work colleagues at lunch time. They'll keep me on my toes. I am also going for walks. The campus is beautiful, criss crossed with paths and direct access to the woods. I'd be a fool not to. I take Jack for long brisk walks on my work at home days. I have acquired a gadget that tells me just how lazy I am by counting my steps. It also measures my heart rate and tells me if I sleep ok. I like that last one a lot...  I like gadgets but of course no gadget in the world can change your bad habits. Did you know there is an entire branch of science dedicated to finding out how one can sustainably make changes to bad habits? My own conclusion is that it ain't easy and takes time. 

I am allowing myself a few weeks time to get used to my more active routine before I address the eating too much s**t problem. I am sure there will be plenty of excuses for missing out walks and classes but maybe these will be fewer over time. 

With this said, I'll leave you to ponder the tables above. Have a lovely week! xx

P.S. on the topic of creative makings and following on from my last post: I feel the need to explain why I have so many projects on the go. It is not because I am superhuman but because each satisfies a different need and because I get bored easily. I spend most evenings making something, sometimes as little as ten minutes, sometimes two hours. This is how I wind down after a busy day. 


20 comments:

  1. I'm a knitter - never apologise to me about how many projects you have on the go - I understand completely! I also completely get the body/mind out of sync thing. I joke that I have a showbiz age of 28 but as the years pass I think I am more and more unlikely to convince anybody that I'm still not quite 30. Ah well. I'm happy in my own skin these days and that counts for a great deal in my book :-) xx

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  2. I know I need to increase my fitness & eat less but apart from that I'm good. The gin keeps me going! I have numerous projects on the go too, some little & some big. I like to think it keeps my mind ticking over x

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  3. I am trying to get fitter and I do feel better for it and some progress, but it is very slow! I cannot say that I "feel" any different than I did 20 years ago in myself and I am not feeling less happy because I am middle aged! xx

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  4. Hey Christina,
    I was born middle aged. I have a young face. So do you actually. Children and work got in the way of a lot of sporting activity. I have always been greedy, and that is catching up on me. In my mind I am as young as my sense of humor, which can be very childish :)
    Leanne x

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  5. A need to move more and eat less here too. I am starting at Lent. Masses of pancakes to eat first. Then I'll be doing it. Good luck with the fitness. CJ xx

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  6. I think I've always been middle-aged. On the inside, at least. But the outside is rapidly catching up and I should probably do something about it. I wish you lots of luck with the new fitness regime.

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  7. The graphs make intriguing reading. I know in retirement at 60 I feel much better. This is due to far less stress but the biggest reason is extra time particularly for long walks. I don't do running but a regular daily walk does make you feel so much better. As for eating...let's not go there. I'm thinking of you...keep those steps going! Barbara xx

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  8. Yes I really understand the mental age/physical age thing. I feel about 38, am nearly 52, and when tired (i.e.90% of the time) look about 70. I admire you for making positive changes and takimg more exercise. Good luck with it all! X

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  9. I've always felt pretty happy with my life, but the years since we took early retirement have been wonderful.

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  10. I really like my step tracker gadget. It helps me be aware of how much or little I move. Being aware sure helps motivate change. Small steady progress in both health goals and crafting goals keep me moving forward.

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  11. I'm constantly brought up short by the woman in the mirror. So much so that I only look if I know I'm going to see anyone (one of the advantages of working at home)! A pedometer is a great tool for increasing activity. Well done for taking steps (ha) to get fitter. I heard that R4 programme - really interesting and helpful to know that aching is probably due to muscle weakness rather than an inevitable symptom of age. Great post. Sam x

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  12. The graphs are very interesting, I'm sure my happiness and life satisfaction will be higher, and anxiety will decrease when I retire at 60. In my head I'm still young but my body is telling me something very different at the moment! Good luck with your new routine xx

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  13. You're absolutely right about the mirror reflecting a different aged person to the one you feel. Glancing at the mirror and seeing my mother there has brought me up short several times! Mind you, my mother was very excited that her gadget had pinged twice in the last week because she'd gone 10,000 steps in the day, which is pretty good for an eighty year old.
    Enjoy those walks.

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  14. I'm now more than twice the age of some of the students I'm teaching and am constantly surprised by this! What happened to me? I could do with doing more exercise but am too tired between work and family at the moment! Great on you for getting going. I wish I had more of your motivation! :) xx

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  15. Hi My son has some sort of gadget on his new phone that measures your heart beat "try it mum" he says, even he was surprised when my heart rate was 64 BPM "Blimy" not bad for an old girl, I'm 56 hardly old cheeky bugger however I was pleased that I'm not quite as unfit as I thought I was. We have been walking regularly and I do yoga and meditate not as often as I used to but anything is better than nothing is my mantra. Also I drink Matcha green tea which I swear stops my joints from aching and calms me down. I have written a post on my blog about Matcha if you are interested. I swear by it although it's not cheap.

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  16. I think these graphs are fascinating, Christina. Hopefully they are accurate. It looks like at age 59 I'm just ready for an upswing! Have fun with your fitness tracker. I really enjoy mine, although I have to confess I stopped wearing it to bed. It was starting to stress me out to see how rotten I slept night after night.

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  17. Good for you!!!! I think that I am letting myself go and I know that I need to be more active. Hard with my time constraints and Little Buddy to deal with. He is not one for a stroller and walks at a snails pace. As he gets older I know I will get it back together. But for today I am just proud of myself for getting some make up on, not something I usually do.

    I did see a study like that when I was dealing with my teenagers, a husband who was at midlife and my aging parents, and menopause, I'll tell you what it was a very low point, so I understand why people might be unhappy at this age.

    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  18. I reCognise that feeling of my body being out of sync with my head! I really like my Fitbit and have found it a great motivator to keep me moving.

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  19. I catch myself sometimes when I think about my age and wonder if I've remembered it right, how did I get here, I must have missed some years somewhere along the way. I'm happy with my life but I'm definitely more anxious now than I've ever been, I stress and worry about the slightest thing, I do hope it passes by as the graph would seem to indicate it probably will.

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  20. I hate those aches and pains that last for a couple of days after any heavy duty exertion. And I like to think(!) I'm pretty fit. Like you when I was in my twenties and early thirties I used to row, compete in triathlons and cycle a 16 mile round trip to work. But age catches up with us all and now aged 55 I know I'm not as strong as I used to be. Interestingly there was another radio 4 programme on recently which argued that the aches and pains we associate with getting old are in fact to do with muscle weakening so your body strengthening classes sound an excellent idea. BTW I cured my plantar fasciitis (I'd presented at my GP surgery worried I was developing arthritis) by wearing slippers indoors and always wearing proper boots when gardening and down at the allotment. In the summer when I cycle everywhere in shorts and eat home grown fruit and veg at every meal I feel great so the key is to move more and eat better, easier said than done during the winter. Good luck with reclaiming your inner self Christina.

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx