Don’t Call Me Old! 80-Something Shares Tips for a Full Life

senior ziplining
On a recent trip to Costa Rica, Elsie never turned down the opportunity to have a new adventure. She relished ziplining through the jungle.

I’m a true believer enjoying life by keeping fit and staying active. And as an octogenarian, I know that longevity of life makes me super wealthy. John Ruskin said it best: “There’s no wealth but life.”

So in order to stay in shape and remain wealthy, I teach exercise classes, spend time in the great outdoors, keep a positive attitude, and travel whenever I can.

Just Keep Moving

For years I have been teaching my own version of exercise at various senior centers. During these hour-long sessions, I try to engage all parts of the body. Some seniors don’t get much exercise, so my encouragement is, “Move whatever you can. There is no competition in this class.”

I always include music, a little singing, jokes for laughs (another form of exercise), a dance routine, and a few minutes of relaxation. We all have fun, and it’s a great boost to my mood, too.

Active Indoors and Out

It might seem strange, but I get the same kind of mood boost after cleaning my large house. I also get joy from spending time in nature, hiking in the woods, or walking my son’s dog.

In the garden I exert a great deal of energy weeding, digging, and pruning. I find that the flowers, trees, butterflies, and scampering squirrels are wonderful companions, reminding me that I am part of this fascinating earth. The beautiful sunrise, sunset, and bright beaming moon are also appreciated, bringing another Ruskin quote to mind: “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating.”

The Right Attitude

When it comes to exercising, I don’t exclude my mind—I try to keep a positive attitude by nurturing meaningful relationships, staying socially involved, and recalling only happy encounters of the past. Dr. Deepak Chopra confirms this: “What you think affects your brain chemistry. It’s our thoughts which are like software programs that run our body.”

The good news is that age cannot be blamed for malfunction. Researchers have verified that the brain does not deteriorate with age, it just keeps on going.

senior riding, senior horseback riding
Elsie goes on a trail ride in Costa Rica.

Travel Adventures

I believe my mind is enhanced by traveling all over the world. Though I might initially have some hesitation, I usually disregard that fear of the unknown. Such was the scenario when I signed up for a 15-day trip to New Zealand last fall.

The result was an astonishing whirlwind experience. We were always on the move, with constant changes in our schedule. When inclement weather forced us to abandon an anticipated trip to Haase Pass, our tour leader substituted an overnight stay at a truly grand hotel facing Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak.

On arrival, heavy rains and dense clouds made our spirits sag. But a pre

senior ziplining

dinner stop in the cocktail lounge with its sumptuous windows became a magical payoff for us—and it wasn’t just the drinks. Right at sunset, bright beams of sunlight suddenly  uncovered the magnificent double-peaked Mount Cook! To me, it seemed like a miracle. And it showed how staying open to new ventures can completely recharge the mind and body. And keep us young at heart.