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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Boomers are booming!

Low Impact to High Impact

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By Paula Hurtt and Jene Hedden

     We Boomers are reinventing ourselves. We are looking to make changes in our routines, our health and our social circumstances among other aspects of our lives.



     Setting new goals can be fun, but making the actual changes can be challenging. After all, we are creatures of habit. It’s easy to say, “I’m ready to finally get in shape!” or "I'm ready to make new friends!"  But, it’s often tough to actually get there.  


     Those who are most successful at making changes do so incrementally. So it’s important to move from “low impact” to “high impact” when making any kind of change.  


     For example, if your goal is to improve your fitness level, it’s important to start with low impact exercise and work your way toward more high impact activities . Taking an enjoyable stroll around the neighborhood after dinner might be a good low impact way to start getting fit.  Once your daily walk gets to be a habit, you most likely will  find yourself looking forward to it. Pretty soon you may want to stretch your legs a bit more and maybe go a little faster or a little farther.  At this point, you might want to set more definite distance or time goals. 


     As long as you are comfortable and pain free, continue challenging yourself. When it’s not fun anymore, back off until it is. If you continue increasing your speed and distance at your comfortable pace, before you know it, your fitness level will be improved and you can try more high impact activities such as playing tennis or pickleball, hiking or jogging. 

     Looking for a way to get started?  Start with the Go4Life fitness program suggested by the National Institutes of Health and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine.  Or check out this article at Fox News about the top five exercises for Boomers.  As always, check with your doctor before starting any new fitness program.


     We can apply this low impact to high impact technique to other changes we might want to make in our lives too. 


     Let’s say you want to improve your mind.


     If we’re honest, most all of us are more terrified of the possibility of dementia and other age-related cognitive problems than just about anything else that could happen to us. Yet, more and more research indicates that we can help keep our minds healthy as we age just like we keep our bodies healthy…by exercising them. 


     If you haven’t challenged your mind for awhile, start with low impact brain exercises. Do some easy crossword puzzles or word find puzzles, work jig saw puzzles or if you’re more math oriented, get a Sudoku puzzle book. Then try something more challenging like writing poetry or short stories. 


     A great idea is to write your memoirs for your children and grandchildren. Set a goal to write a few pages every day. If you get stuck, try reading for awhile before writing. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, espouses the importance of reading for the writer, and in fact shares that he frequently reads for half the day before writing for the other half. 


     Speaking of reading, a great way to challenge the mind is to go back and read the classics we were assigned in high school and college. Books like The Old Man and the Sea, The Scarlet Letter, A Tale of Two Cities and even Shakespeare’s plays are a different reading experience when read with the perspective of our current age and life experiences. Yet, they can still be challenging. 


     When you’re ready for high impact mental exercise, try the New York Times crossword puzzle. Or learn a new language.  There are some fun language learning apps out there that you can load onto your computer, tablet or phone. 

     North Dakota State University offers several ideas and links for brain game apps you can ld on your i-phone, i-pad or i-phone.  Lumosity.com is a popular brain game app.  Or check out these brain teasers, games and illusions at sharpbrains.com just for fun.


     Is your goal to get out and get more involved in the community? Use the same low impact to high impact technique. 


     If you’ve spent your whole adult life in the same job or routine and around the same people, joining new groups and meeting new people can be a little intimidating. So, start with low impact social activities where you will be a spectator.  Go to a movie, a local play or festival. Go watch a local high school sports team.  Or find a local church to join and start out by going to worship services. 


     When you’re comfortable with being out and about in unfamiliar places and circumstances, look into joining an organization. If you’re the shy type, try volunteer organizations. Social stress is lessened when you are busy working side by side with others because the focus is on the task at hand and not on yourself. 


     High impact social activities would be those in which you put yourself out front and center. Perhaps you could teach a class on something about which you are an expert. Join a book club or writing club where your opinion and input is expected. Take a dance class where you will not only be conversing with but in physical contact with another person. 

     The local newspaper is a great first stop for finding ways in which to be more active and engaged in the community.   The Datebook in our local paper, the Sentinel News always has a long list of local events, volunteer opportunities, organizations and other ways to get out and about and make new friends.  Or check out local church websites for their calendar of events activities.  


     We can apply this low impact to high impact plan to just about any change we want to make in our lives including improving our marriages, improving our relationships with our children and grandchildren, travel, life skills, faith and all kinds of self-improvement. 

      Whatever change you want to make in your life, take it a step at a time. Before you know it, you’ll meet your goals whatever they may be.