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  • Writer's picturePat Birnie

The REAL Secret to Aging Beautifully

A few years ago I was sitting at an outdoor café and noticed an elderly couple, likely well into their 80's approaching very slowly. It was lovely seeing them walk arm in arm. She had great difficulty walking so he tenderly helped her into a chair and went to get her a drink. She was clearly very concerned about her appearance. Her wardrobe, hair and makeup were impeccable, almost extreme for that warm sunny afternoon. I can’t even guess the amount of money that went into her completely smooth face (not a wrinkle from the chin up!). There are changes that happen to our body as the years click by. We can’t dispute that. Some will try desperately to maintain a youthful appearance. Sadly, the results are often not the most natural, and really, what exudes youthfulness? To me it's energy, joy & vitality.

It really made me so sad. Like all of us, she was the product of decades of experience – joy and heartbreak, challenges and achievements. But her face was expressionless – it didn’t move and it didn’t reflect the beautiful journey and road traveled. I thought about her as I left, and wished she had worried less about her wrinkles and sags and more about staying limber, flexible and active. I may not celebrate when I look in the mirror and see the 60+ year old face (Is that you mom?) looking back at me. But then, I look back at my years of worrying about my kids and my parents, sleepless nights, times of financial scarcity, my doubts about who I am and who I would become, career ups & downs, business failures & successes, thousands of miles run, love, loss and so much more. I realize now that I wouldn’t change a thing and that the journey has left a roadmap on my body and face. I am not saying I'm against the amazing techniques available to us; there is nothing wrong with some gentle tweaks here & there.

I obviously don’t know this lady’s story, but I'd like to think that had she spent more time and effort on maintaining mobility and less on her outward appearance she may have been a bit more mobile now...just my opinion, for sure. To be robust, strong and flexible is so much more valuable to me and I'm committed to maintaining that as long as possible.

If I could offer one tip or piece of advice for aging beautifully and vibrantly – it’s to move your body! We are meant to move and one of those ‘inevitable’ things that happen is loss of flexibility. Hate exercise? You are not alone. The reality is, you need to use your muscles & get your heart rate up. I promised you a simple & easy tip here -- this is it -- STRETCH. Yup, just stretch! If you can dedicate 5-10 minutes every single day and work your way from head to toe, slowly and gently stretching your muscles, the rewards will be incredible. I know because I’ve seen it happen. And guess what? If FEELS good. Grab your phone or a timer, plop down on a carpet and commit to 5 minutes – no less! Start at the toes and work all the way up to the neck. And later in the day, repeat from the neck down! It doesn’t have to been fancy and it doesn’t cost a penny.

Oh man – the rewards you will see!

1. You’ll be taller (better posture)

2. Your neck will make fewer of those annoying clicking sounds

3. You’ll be able to get up from your chair without groaning due to more limber joints

4. Better energy (from improved circulation)

5. There's a pretty strong possibility that decades down the road you will be moving around more like a youngster than an oldster!

Don’t take my word for it – other experts agree. Check out some great stretches and benefits here.

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