An argument to be proactive about your good health in midlife and avoid a crisis.
The old man passed his days in a worn-out, brown corduroy recliner, watching television and napping, left with distant memories of times working in his vegetable garden and wood crafting shop. Tethered to an oxygen machine and a 15-foot breathing tube, he kept a pee jug by the recliner to avoid the trek to the bathroom. He could survive a few minutes without the tube but walking heightened the leg pain he’d experienced since doctors removed a blood vein to bypass a blocked artery in his heart 15 years earlier. That heart procedure was one of many he had endured since midlife, including the installation of a defibrillator/pacemaker combo.
My father stumbled like a blind drunkard into poor health in later midlife, beginning with diabetes and daily insulin shots because he neglected healthy choices. He smoked, ate whatever he wanted, and didn’t exercise. Dad swallowed whatever pills the doctors prescribed and never proactively pursued a healthy lifestyle. Consequently, poor health ravaged his last several years and robbed him of the hobbies he enjoyed.
Does Midlife Have to Suck?
Does midlife have to coincide with a decline in health and purpose? Not according to aging studies I discussed in a previous article, Midlife Crisis? No Way! Here’s How to Find Purpose and Joy. Midlife and beyond can be our most joy-filled and productive times.
But you do have to consider the miserable math of aging.
For instance, I’m 56, and statistically, I have about 24 years left in my tank. I’ll sleep one-third of this time (with the help of a highly recommended sleep aid). The math brings my waking productive time down to 16 years.
Oof. I have dress shirts older than that.
The math can become even more miserable considering failing strength, energy, and health. You’ll have a diminishing capacity to be productive as you age. This is true regardless of how well you care for your health. A midlife 50-year-old man can’t work as long and strong as a man half his age.
So, if I have 16 years of awake time remaining, how many of those years can be fruitful and joyful, unhindered by doctors’ appointments, hospital stays, and breathing tubes?
The answer is up to me (and the Providence of God, of course.)
A Challenge that Helps You Avoid a Midlife Crisis
For instance, a 2019 study examined how the number of pushups a person can do relates to their risk of developing a cardiovascular health problem a decade later. The study included 1104 active men with a median age of 39.6.
The study revealed a striking contrast between two sets of men: those who could do over 40 pushups and those who managed fewer than 10. Men who could do more than 40 pushups had a 96% reduced risk of developing a cardiovascular problem compared to males who could only do less than ten pushups.
This means if you want a statistical chance of avoiding heart problems in midlife and beyond, you need to apply your efforts to reach 40 pushups.
Consider what a goal of 40 pushups entails. If you max out at ten today, what must happen to hit 40?
Many, many changes, my friend.
Losing weight, exercising, eating healthy foods, taking supplements is a good start, and being consistent. These good lifestyle habits will also help you avoid diabetes and other health problems and will add many productive years to your life. The pushup challenge offers a tangible, measurable target that informs if you’re progressing in all your efforts.
Squeeze All the Goodness Out of Midlife
Once people hit midlife, their perspective shifts from how many years they have lived to the number of years remaining. For some mid-lifers, this mindset change causes a crisis, which makes sense. The math isn’t in our favor. But we can still live a very full life and stretch the math if we proactively care for our health. We no longer have the advantage of quantity, yet we can squeeze out the most quality possible. We must abandon the mindless, default living that got us here and take up arms to fight aging.
Or as Kobe Bryant said,
Let’s kick midlife in the teeth! My new book, Stronger Down the Stretch: Surviving Midlife Without a Crisis, will help you navigate midlife. It’s available on Amazon as an eBook and print – and Gumroad as a PDF.
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