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Active Voice | Getting active to avoid acting my age

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Here’s a challenge: Close your eyes and walk in a straight line for four metres placing your feet heel to toe.

Sound easy? When I first observed a group of seniors doing this exercise a week ago my young, naive self assumed I could complete this movement with ease. That was until I went to a physiotherapy appointment the next day. I’d walked in bragging about how my balance was improving after a recent knee injury and, as luck would have it, my physio suggested I try this very exercise to test my balance.

Piece. Of. Cake. With my chest puffed out like a pidgeon, I clamped my eyes shut and took off at pace, only to lose my balance and fall sideways into a wall.


As humbling as the experience was, it was also a reminder that age really is just a number sometimes.

Fast forward a few days and that lesson was even more apparent, albeit through a very different experience. On the weekend some friends and I entered a family friendly orienteering event in Rotorua that was complete with clues and bonus points for finding hidden gnomes throughout the course.

I haven’t given much thought to gnomes in the past few decades, what with work, bills and just generally trying to survive adulthood, but there I was crawling through bushes determined to find a gnome so I could score an extra 10 points.

When I finally emerged victorious it was to a group of mums and dads waiting patiently with strollers and tricycles for their gnome-hunting four and five year olds. In the excitement of it all I’d thankfully forgotten to act my age, and the toddlers and I were having a blast.

It’s easy to think we should do certain things or act a certain way based on our age, and rightly so in some cases (at my age throwing a tantrum when I have to brush my teeth is probably not appropriate). But when our pre-conceived ideas of age hold us back from valuable experiences, then it’s maybe time to let go a little.

I’ve now well and truly abandoned the notion that I should only worry about my balance when I reach my senior years. I’ve also given up on the idea that I’m too old for imagination and play. Who knew gnome-hunting could be so much fun?

So here’s another challenge: Next Monday is International Day of Older Persons, and it’s also the start of the school holidays. So why not avoid ‘acting your age’ and try a few exercises to test your balance, or release that inner child and check out one of the great scavenger hunts that Sport Bay of Plenty has organised through the Virtually on Track initiative?

After all, the benefits of being active are for everyone, no matter your age.

Find out more about the Virtually on Track scavenger hunts

Read more about the value of strength and balance

Find a Keep on Your Feet strength and balance class for seniors

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x3 May 2016