Fitness and humor pave way to healthy aging

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October is one of my favorite months for many reasons, but probably the biggest reason is it’s my birth month. I have chalked up one more year on my calendar of life. Birthdays seem to come quicker with each advancing year.
When I turned 50, it was a sobering time. I remember waking up and realizing for truly the first time in my life that it was possible to die. Actually, looking back at it, that is a pretty long time to carry the thought that one is immortal, but naively I did.
When I turned 60 I was inured to the fact that time was catching up with my body, so I determined to do something to prove I “still had it.”
That year I spent over a month in Utah because my daughter had a baby and developed complications. I walked hills every day, culminating in a hike to the top of Timpanogos. My outlaws, Kendall and Traci Wimmer, hiked along and took a picture of a victorious me standing by the metal hut at the top of the mountain overlooking the valley, arms raised in triumph and a huge smile on my face.
This year (oh well, I might as well admit it) I turned 67 “” older than dirt but apparently younger than stone, in that I can still move pretty well. Even so, every year I add to my age I find it harder to chase an energetic 2-year-old or play mind games with a determined 3-year-old; instead, I prefer reading to children and doing puzzles. There are times I feel pretty spry until I play tennis with my 16-year-old granddaughter, Andie, and can last only about 30 minutes hitting with her. I know I am most fortunate to even be able to play tennis or contemplate chasing a toddler, but still, there are days that having my youthful strength back would be nice.
Besides keeping physically active, I believe that stoking your sense of humor is equally vital to healthy aging. Recently, I received an e-mail that made me laugh. It was about a grandmother who was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this in. At last she said, “Gee, Grandma, I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!”
Agatha Christie once said, “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

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