Secret to getting to age 101 and beyond — keep moving…

October 30, 2011

So Mom turns 101 today.

And it almost seems as if her four children are catching up with her. I mean I’m the youngest and I’m 62, but her oldest is pushing 82 — and by all appearances is in fine shape; I just saw him last night.

Mom lives in an assisted living home but can get around, primarily by wheelchair these days, but she also rides an adult-sized tricycle around the outside of the place — she used to ride inside too, but the powers that be put a stop to that — it made some of the old people nervous, I guess.

Okay, so most people usually want to know what is the secret to longevity. All I can say is that in her case she has always kept active, but she was not the kind to do gymnastics or long-distance bike riding (shorter distance yes), or a lot of mountain climbing, or even stand-in-front-of-the-TV aerobics or whatever (I think she has attended some exercise sessions where she lives).

But mom was the old-fashioned housewife and I think that kept her moving enough to suffice. When I was real small we still lived in San Francisco and apparently were not aware that having two cars so mom can zip down to the grocery store was a requirement for modern living. I recall walking (or maybe I rode my tricycle) with her many long blocks to a supermarket, and she would return with grocery bags under both arms. Later, still having only one car in the family and dad having it at work, we lived in a small town in California’s Central Valley and mom would often walk the several blocks downtown. In later years we did wind up with a second vehicle.

But if anyone is interested in non-stressful healthy exercise, using her as a guide, I would suggest that you just keep moving.

I have personally always abhorred what I call artificial exercise, that is calisthenics. I do think that as a man I could have benefited from some weight lifting, although even in that, if you just do some physical work your muscles will tone up – expand a little too.

Mom did smoke for, well since I don’t know when she began precisely, I am estimating nearly 40 years. She quit sometime after I left high school and was away in the Army. I don’t know if she was ever what one might call a heavy smoker. I just recall that as a kid I would see her sit down and have a smoke or she would smoke in a car too. But finally she just up and quit and stayed quit.

We were meat eaters, but mom always cooked vegetables, and when I was a kid we ate meals primarily made from scratch, prepared from the raw ingredients, very little instant stuff and no takeout. People are so busy today out trying to make more money and figure they don’t have time to cook. What they fail to realize or sometimes seem to flat out reject is that preparing balanced meals from scratch is tons more economical and tons more healthy.

But Mom also has benefited from being naturally healthy, something over which none of us have complete control — often luck of the draw in life.

I’ve been informed by the medical profession that my Waldenstrom’s cancer is not likely going to allow me to match my mother’s longevity — but I’m still working and I’m still moving.

Goona move right down later today to celebrate Mom’s 101st with my siblings and others.

Happy Birthday Mom!