Old enough to have a past and young enough to have a future!
Old enough to have a past and young enough to have a future!

Use It or Lose It aka Do You Suffer from the ‘Shar-Pei’ effect?

After PT for my back surgery ended, I needed to replace that activity as I really understood how much better I felt after a session in the pool. I reluctantly committed to tugging on my bathing suit as often as my schedule and weather would allow, and now I find I crave that time in the pool with my noodle because I ALWAYS feel more limber and in better spirits when I’m done.

If you are sorely out of shape, moving in water is enormously beneficial. If you’re recently out of PT for surgery or other situation and are cleared by your doctor for the pool, you will benefit. If you notice that your skin is hanging more than it used to – something I call the ‘shar-pei’ effect (do you relate?) – then you likely have lost muscle tone, as I have. Years of hormone imbalances along with a 1 1/2 inch loss of height have contributed to my sagging skin and my goal is to increase muscle mass in my arms and legs so I don’t look like a shar pei! Plus, of course, there’s the understanding that my muscles keep me together, balanced and functioning and, as a homo-sapien, if I don’t use them …then I will lose them.  And, at 66, I still feel like life is an adventure with so much more good stuff to come. I don’t want to lose it, so I compel myself to move it. It is really quite that simple, although not always so easy.

So often, lack of exercise is related to depression. But wait, depression is related to lack of exercise. It’s a vicious circle and it’s a circle that you can break… but it takes commitment. So the first time I ventured out to the pool across the road, I didn’t actually go in all the way. I dipped a toe. It didn’t kill me so I sat on the edge and listened to the birds and the breeze as it wafted through the palm fronds. It was peaceful. I felt ok with being there. Then I left. When I came back the next day, I wanted to go in. Something shifted. It was a little less threatening. I liked the quiet. I still do. I always leave my time in the pool feeling alive and ready for whatever is coming next.

The main thing you need is access to a pool. After that, a towel, noodle and whatever makes you comfortable in the pool such as goggles, swim cap, nose clips etc. With the noodle you can move around in ways that will keep your head above water. If you want to reduce the sun’s effects, I recommend swim shirts, hats and sunglasses rather than sunscreen to minimize the chemical impact on the body.

In the evolution of our species, humans have moved regularly throughout the day for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s only in the past 150 years that we have become sedentary and exercise is a “thing” we must do, rather than a lifestyle we embrace. Just remember, either use it or lose it!

Wishing you reasons to smile every day,

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