If I were the highlighted animal in a televised nature show, the commentary would probably go something like this:
“Today we spotlight the slightly balding, permanently graying homo erectus, the male version of the species. As we train our cameras on him, he’s trying to improve his posture out of his natural slouch. It appears he is slowly reverting to his ape-like state. His eyesight is worsening as he enters his 44th year and if you ask his mate — these animals mate for life, at least so far — his hearing is deteriorating as well. Homo erectus is now rubbing his shoulder — that’s because he has what his doctor calls “an impingement.” It appears to be the result of an injury abut 15 years ago when he thought diving for a softball in a meaningless game with co-workers was a good idea.
This creature also is having difficulty with his teeth. You can see him struggling to clean something out of his teeth, which is something that his dentist has been warning him of for some time. He suffers from a gum disease and needs consistent dental care, especially if he continues to eat as many sugary snacks as he does.
Oh look! The animal is doing something very unusual — exercise. Watch him closely. He is picking up something called a jump rope and is busying himself by jumping over the rope. Not very quick, is he? A child could do it faster. Let’s see what other exercises he does. Excellent! He is doing push ups. Or at least, it looks like he’s TRYING to do push ups. Yes, that was a short set. Only a handful. This creature is obviously not very strong. Now he’s picking up weights. Light weights, to be precise.
Ah, this man is now bending over to touch his toes. He does surprisingly well, considering his hiatus from exercise. And now we’ll get to something fun. Two of the homo erectus “cubs” are playfully joining their father. They’re climbing on his back and forcing him to carry them around the property. Oh, no. It looks like the father has fallen down from the weight and is unable to get up. That’s just another day in the life of this man.”
In my ears, I hear the mellifluous tones of Sir David Attenborough voicing those words, while his cameramen observe me in my natural habitat, attempting to keep the fates of time and life at bay. As the years roll by, my commitment to my body has increased considerably and, according to each of the medical professionals I’ve visited in the past few months, it must continue.
Here’s a rundown:
I now floss not once, but twice a day to keep my periodontal disease in check.
I perform a daily, 20-minute regiment of stretches and weight-bearing exercises for my gimpy left shoulder.
I jump rope, do push-ups, pull-ups and light weight exercises 5-6 times per week to build more testosterone.
All that work takes commitment and time. But I know it’s for the best. Many of my guy friends face the same challenges of trying to wring an extra 30 minutes from our daily grind to exercise.
As we, the men approaching a certain age, strive to maintain ourselves into the second act of our lives there are plenty of steps we can take to ensure our health doesn’t deteriorate quicker than we want it to. WebMD.com offers the following tips:
* De-stress by exercising, yoga, meditation or stress management classes. Stress is a major factor in heart disease, which is the leading killer of men age 45-54.
* VIsit your doctor. Do you regularly change the oil in your car? Rotate your tires? What you do for your car you should do for your body. Regular check-ups and bloodwork will help to keep your body in peak operating condition and give you a heads up when you might be ready to break down.
* Lose the belly fat. According to WebMD.com, “Studies have found that spare tires trump even general obesity as a predictor of heart disease and diabetes.”
It sucks getting old.
But here’s what doesn’t suck — knowing that I’m making the commitment to my health to, hopefully, live a longer, stronger, more fulfilling life by disciplining myself in my 40’s for the eventual breakdown of my body that will come in my later years. The longer that I can maintain this physical specimen that I’ve been given, the better off I’ll be to jump around with my kids, impress my wife and soak up the joys of living. That’s a pretty good trade off.