Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Get a Leg Up

     I don’t remember when I lost my ability to hunker. I only know that I can’t hunker any more, and I miss it.
     You know what a hunker is, right? That’s the sort of squat where you sit on your heels, knees bent. Kids, Native Americans and rural folks from the South and West are sort of famous for hunkering. They do it with no sweat. But now, when I try to hunker I find that I can’t. It’s too painful on my knees, and I don’t have the leg strength to get back up.
     I wish I’d worked harder at maintaining that leg strength when I was younger. Without legs that work well, you’re in danger of all sorts of bad things. Being too sedentary is bad for your health. Worse yet, a friend of mine has lost the use of her legs altogether – they’re just too weak now – and has become bedridden. Not many good outcomes follow that.
     So my wife and I now walk everywhere we can. We climb 10 flights, of 15 stairs each, every morning at home, weather permitting, and when it’s raining, I’m pedaling on my stationary bike instead. When I visit an office building, I try to use the stairs there, too. As I said, I’ve lost too much leg strength, and I’m trying to maintain and build up what’s left.
     I’d recommend that you keep your legs in mind, too. Use them. A lot. Get up out of your chair without using your arms (leaning forward is the key). Hit the gym when you can. Do laps around the block. Swimming is good, too. Get those muscles working regularly. Don’t take anything for granted.
     And don’t just sit there. Unless you still can hunker, in which case do that repeatedly as often as you can for as many years as you can. I guarantee you’ll miss it when it’s gone.

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