By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
September 27, 2015
I talk about the rigors of my job way too often, so often I wonder if people get turned off by the mere complaint “my body was so so the other day” or something close to that when I mention it in the blog. Some days are certainly better than others, much like yesterday when I went home early. But on the other hand, I went early because I found out my friend had mysteriously been checked into the hospital, and unsure of what that meant, I decided to voluntarily take off early (which is something I never do!). Since his phone had died the previous night, I had to learn this detail from Facebook of all places, from his sister’s page. In my book, it is never a good thing to hear second hand knowledge on social media no matter how many assurances you receive. Well, turns out my friend is having some issues with his liver, and had to spend his entire weekend stuck in a hospital bed. I guess this is the first sign of old age starting to hit myself and my peer group, for it seemed pretty damn scary. I’m used to seeing older people in the hospital (especially my poor mother, who was in the hospital again this week due to possible dehydration), but to see someone who is the same age as you puts things into perspective. My irrational fear of hospitals and all things associated with it were brought to life as I hung out with him for a few hours. The smell of the hospital was putrid, for I felt like I was breathing some kind of gas that was leaving fire trails in my lungs. And of course, I showed up right when they had to take some blood samples and blood cultures. Even though I donate plasma on a regular basis, I still can’t handle the sight of needles. When some random tech is prepared to stick a 17-gauge needle into my arm, it makes me cringe. It used to be really horrible when I was much heavier, and had a lot of arm fat to block the sight line. More often than I would like to admit, I went home with an arm that had a giant blood bruise courtesy of an “infiltration, a moment when you vein actually starts leaking blood! Anyway, my friend, who has known me for the better part of 24 years, was doing a funny play-by-play, saying stuff like “Look at all that blood…” and “Oops!” I was feeling queasy from the visions going through my head (never do a play-by-play to visual thinker! hehe), but I felt a little better knowing he was in good enough spirits to poke a little fun at me. I think one reason why I have tried so hard to be healthy is due to my hatred of hospitals, even if they are meant to save your life. The smell is the first thing that always gets to me! Even when my mother was in the hospital, I hated every second of it, especially the time when someone in the room behind her was yelling at the top of her lungs and being an asshole!
When this sort of thing comes into the limelight, perspective hits you like a ton of bricks. I’m not getting any younger, and this means I might actually have to start thinking about the future, even if the present is a bit crazy for me right now. Much like myself, my friend works a fairly demanding job, standing for hours on end and often times getting stuffed into loading jobs (he works at grocery store, and often times they have him stock dairy). I can only imagine what it must be like for his legs and feet, even if he just stands still for much of the day. Trust me, the toughest times I have had at my job were the moments when the pace came to a halt, and I would find myself standing around doing virtually nothing. This happened a couple weeks ago, where I was loading trucks and half the time I would beg the conveyor belt to send me something…anything….just to break the monotony. I was even begging to be sent home early (but only in my mind, not to anyone physical or else they would have taken me up on that offer). Truthfully, I doubt I will do what I am doing forever, but at least at this moment I know I will be fit enough to handle the workload. I have a certain workaholic mentality in my mind, where if I get started, I have trouble stopping and turning off the motor. I probably get this from my father, who even though he is pushing 70, is still doing hard labor to keep himself busy. First it started with him doing work around the Southwest Community Center near his house, changing out fixtures and lights (occasionally calling me in to help). Heck, he moved a whole bunch of parking blocks by himself one day. His newest hobby is now to put down loads of rock in the front of his house, covering up the dirt embankments that run just along the front of his property. It’s been a little project of his for the last few weeks, borne out of a general disgust for the dozens of idiots that tear up the front of his house as they are picking up their little snot nosed kids from the elementary school nearby. You see, these people just park on his driveway, blocking him in and also digging large holes into the dirt. The rock project of his will provide better traction in the future and not allow people to dig large abscesses into his yard, which gather water like crazy during the monsoon and winter seasons. I’m still impressed by his effort, for he keeps getting a trailer full of rock and laying them out when he has the chance. All the while, he is doing this as he has upped his personal training a bit, doing heavier weights at the gym and strengthening his body as opposed to mostly keeping it limber.
Now, I might not take my dad’s example to quite the extreme he has, like doing front yard work in the middle of a 105-degree day. Either way, his desire to stay physically active may look crazy to people such as myself, but research is proving once again that being physically active at a late stage in life is not necessarily bad for you. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/24/442923309/could-skipping-retirement-be-great-for-your-health Now, people have heard all throughout their lives that retiring early is the thing to do, for it is not just an indicator of wealth and prestige but also know-how. But what about the rest of us? We all have this crazy notion that if we keep pushing ourselves, we are destined break down. But according to a study conducted by a journal called Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers surveyed 85,000 people 65 or older (mean age 75) and discovered people who were still working were in much better health than those that retired, reporting good health nearly three times as often. Now the study also got a little more interesting between the blue and white collar workers, with the blue collar people reporting less chronic diseases than their more upscale counterparts. At a face value, this is the kind of stuff that would make retirement age raising republican presidential candidates happy, much has to be deconstructed on this study.
Now I like to mention these kind of studies because not only does it give some good insight and ideas about aging, it also give me an avenue to take down some click bait stories. Now I love National Public Radio, but much like any sloppy blog, they fail to ask the pertinent questions. Just how physically demanding were the jobs? How many hours were the people that answered working? And of course, the biggest issue is how trustworthy were the responses. Now I bring these questions up because I am not entirely convinced of the results. I doubt if I was working my job well into my golden years, I would not be a shining example of good health. I might be able to pull it off at a part time, but not at a 36 hour rate like I am attempting right now. When you read the abstract, much of the information was based on responses from those that participated, which piqued my interest. I’m not straight up accusing people of lying, but this is where the idea of surveying a specific idea can come into question and be picked apart. Let’s look at the issue at hand…aging is tough on the body. You can certainly maintain good health and body definition as has been proven by several online bodybuilders. But truthfully, that is the exception, not the rule. Then there are some other questions. Should we continue to raise the retirement age due to surveys such as this? Should we encourage people to keep working even if they do retire?
While I have no issue with putting down the blog entry from NPR, they did pontificate on a possible reason why many people report happiness when they work late into their lives. Much like myself, I hate the idea of being useless to someone. I hate the idea of not contributing to something even if I cannot really witness or physically touch. I write this blog week in and week out, wondering if anyone is really taking in any of the insight and struggles I write about. I often times wonder, “Is Jon throwing away his money and am I wasting my time?”Honestly, I keep doing it because I like doing it. It keeps me on the path to good health even if I sound whiney from time to time. Even if no one is really taking in my words, it makes me feel better about myself and also stimulates me mentally. Do you really know how hard it is to do this twice a week for over three years, with increasingly longer and more complicated content? I have those feelings even when I’m at work, even though I work for a multi-billion dollar company. When the day has slowed to a grinding halt and I didn’t get sent home early, I do feel a little bit of guilt for making money without really earning it. Maybe I’m weird, or maybe that is part of the collective of a great many people. We all want to feel like we are useful and appreciated, and this most likely becomes a bigger reason for inner content. Let’s face it, when you are young and strong, you get recognition for those feats. When you are older and more frail looking, people try to do everything for you due to your perceived weakness. Perhaps those that can still accomplish their work keep doing it due to the satisfaction of simply knowing they can do it. And thus, this might be the reason they will give positive remarks on a survey like this. Even if they have to take Aleve for their hands and soak their feet in epsom salt from time to time, the mental satisfaction may be enough to make people look past such issues, maybe even ignore them. Either way, I have written extensively about why older people should remain active late into their lives. Perhaps this is part of the equation I never really pondered, for I have been wound up on pure fitness methodology that I never apply the insight to everyday happenings.
Anyway, the whole debate about health in a person’s golden years will continue to rage on. This will certainly be a difficult question to ponder over the next twenty years as we try and figure out what to do with the rising cost of social security as the Baby Boomer generation continues to live in retirement. Personally, I think 70 is plenty old enough for the retirement age, with eligibility starting at 65. I say this because so many people who work their butts off don’t even make it that far in life. But I think we will always run into this basic line of thinking….never stop taking care of yourself. Whether it be staying busy mentally and physically, the alternative of living a sick and broken down life is not preferable.
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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