Likely by now, everyone has heard the term mid-life or mid-life crisis. However, there is no clear-cut definition as of yet. In the hunter- gatherer phase, the average life expectancy was in the late 20s; 200 years ago the average life expectancy was 35 In the United States; and in 1970, the average American collected Social Security checks approximately 14 months before death. Today, an individual can expect to live in their mid-80s and some predict that 120 will be the new age marker.
Unfortunately, the portrayal of those in mid-life crises has been portrayed very negatively in an unflattering manner in the media, movies and TV. No doubt the realization that one’s life is half over, can be very upsetting. But not all succumb to the stereotypical portrayal of the aging process.
Psychologically, all types of behaviors symbolize the passing of time and defending against one’s own mortality. Not everyone welcomes or looks forward to their demise. Some, purchase Harley-Davidson motorcycles-Corvette Cars; divorce; remarry; begin competing in Ride and Tie –and other extreme sports like the Western States 100 –Tevis Cup, etc. These behaviors have to do with attempting to stop the aging clock or denying the aging process and even denying the inevitability death.
In fact, my first book titled “It Has Nothing to Do with Age” has to do with athletes 65 and older still competing in extreme athletic competitions. Today, I would retitle the book “It Has Everything to Do with Age.” Let me explain about the numerous changes that begin and take place within the 40-65 age group. These changes aren’t happy, but can be a good source of motivation. Physiologically speaking some but not all of the changes include the following: 1. Fatigue 2. Slowing metabolic rate 3. Declining muscle mass. 4. Increased body fat 5. Altered sleep patterns 6. Changes in memory and learning 7. Reduced libido 8. Reduced growth hormone synthesis 9. Reduced neurotransmitter synthesis 10. Reduced cardiac output11. Changes in pulmonary function.
For the past 4-5 years, I have run a 10 mile trail race on New Year’s Day and my New Year’s Eve regime has not changed since I still attend parties. For the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, my trail times have been good in the sense that I have not run this event slower. But this year, my time was slightly slower and I had difficulty subsequently with two 50 K trail runs. Also, my running partner Tony and I have, in the past year, walked more during our training runs-outings. We have remarked that it feels good to walk and that running is certainly more difficult. Then reality hit when I I took this INR continuing education class on mid-life medical changes.
So I have to accept some realistic limitations as far as my running speed. But I do have control and can put more effort into the following in order to slow down the physiological changes taking place in my body: 1. I can eliminate all the night light when retiring-this means wearing a blindfold to block out all the light; I can perform deep muscle relaxation in order to prepare for sleep-sleep can restore and help regenerate brain functioning. 2. I can do weightlifting to restore muscle mass, increase Growth Hormone, increase bone strength, physical strength and increase testosterone. 3. I can make better food choices or nutrition for problems such as with inflammation and weight gain; and wash fruits and vegetables and read labels to eliminate or minimize all the chemical toxins that are added to our food by that industry. Arsenic is used in other countries excluding the United States in the treatment of fruits and vegetables. The notion that there’s more vitamins in the skins is incorrect. A particular study in the 1930s, measured the vitamin content in unwashed apples. They found more iron in the skins. Actually, the iron was from the dirt. Reduce or eliminate the amount of tuna, shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tile because of the high mercury content. 4. I can increase my hydration procedure while running since hydration deficits results in fatigue.
I’m not ready to throw in the towel as my aging fight is not over. I’m more motivated, as I think about my health, and want to continue doing what I’m doing in a way that promotes immortality. I’m selfish about this as I want this process to continue. So, that means I have to change certain behaviors and continue to assess along the way.