"Move It Or Lose It"
Updated: Sep 4
I started my blog, seventynme.com when I was . . . well, seventy. And here it is eight years later, and I'm still at it. I also host "Older Women And Friends" a podcast that celebrated its one-year anniversary just in time for Labor Day. When Sky Bergman, a documentary filmmaker who will be my guest in October, reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2019, I decided to repost it.
When I googled the phrase "Move it or lose it," my screen flooded with ads for local and national moving companies. And here I thought the "call to action" had to do with moving bodies, not things. Silly me.
But sprinkled among these links were YouTube videos, one of which was titled "Fun Activities for Elderly People." Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure that the video was well-intentioned and that the author may have rolled around a few words to describe her audience before landing onelderly. Couldn't she have come up with another term like older, or senior, or even retiree? Hell, if the people in the video were elderly, then I was ancient.
But I'm not ancient--not elderly, either. I'm an active 74-year-old (well, almost) who understands that if I stop moving, it's all over. For me, dance is the thing that keeps my body and mind as sharp as my knees and back will allow. But there are as many options out there as there are baby rabbits running in and out of my backyard. (Damn them!)
And there are as many benefits to movement (some call it exercise) as there are flowers that have been eaten by those damn rabbits. Movement can do all sorts of wondrous things. Who among us wouldn't want to lubricate those creaky joints? Prevent those hip and knee bones from breaking? (I can't count the number of times I've heard someone say, "A broken hip is the beginning of the end." ) Ward off depression, anxiety--whatever emotional stuff ails you? And who among us older women wouldn't want to live a longer, healthier life?
I know, I know . . . I can hear some of you groaning and thinking, She sounds just like my doctor. But, hey, the studies are in; the results made loud and clear. "Move it or lose it."
Like a fine pairing of Japanese Wagyu Rib Eye with a Brick House Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Evelyn’s 2008, movement always goes better with music. Music creates a mood, sets the pace, and gets us off of our behinds. Music gives our bodies and our brains a motivational boost.
I was one of the lucky ones who grew up in Detroit when Motown made the city its home. Music from the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations (the "Temps" as we so fondly called them), the Miracles, Marvin, Martha, Stevie . . . set the rhythm of life in Detroit and, eventually, for the world. We Detroiters rode around in cars manufactured close by and spent hours playing records and moving to the beat. (Ah, those 45s. I still have my red carrying case loaded with blasts from the past. Alas, I don't have a record player, so the 45s sit in that case gathering dust.)
Now the "Fun Activities for the Elderly" that I mentioned earlier presented a group of women who sat in what looked like folding chairs--a couple of feet across from a partner--and threw a bean bag at one another. This was, I'm assuming, a hand/eye coordination game in which one partner was to catch the beanbag and then throw it back to her partner. I know I said that if I can't move, it's all over. But throwing beanbags isn't what I had in mind. Still, I shouldn't be so snarky. We never know what's up ahead. Fingers crossed.
"Lives Well Lived: Celebrating the Secrets, Wit and Wisdom of Age" is an award-winning documentary by Sky Bergman that features 40 people with 3,000 years of collective experience.
Bergman asks each of her subjects: "What is a life well lived?" The answers vary--humor, presence, truth, giving back--but the "move it or lose it" crowd makes its voice heard. They dance, they do yoga, they travel to capture nature in her finest, and they use exercise equipment to keep the good times rolling. Their optimism is infectious; their accomplishments are impressive. And nary one talks about throwing in the towel or succumbing to the many myths about older people and their supposed limitations.
I don't know about you but, for me, the urge to move--to get my blood flowing and my endorphins working--is creative, cathartic, cardio, and communal. I'm sure there is a huge crowd of people who agree. Just consider the runners, students in a yoga class where music is playing, gym rats, and dancers who use music as a complement to movement.
So, get up, join the older women who feel the rhythm, and shake your booty.