What’s Your Age Got To Do With It?
By Don Ingwerson Special to EGP
Have you ever woken feeling older than the day before and noticing a slow erosion of physical freedoms? But have you also had moments when you realized that it was just a mindset that you could move through to higher ground?
A certain frame of mind and an understanding in a higher power have allowed me to work past these messages of apparent physical limitation, to hear ideas that encourage me to keep growing. For me, continued professional and community work by not accepting age or societal limitations has created a satisfying health-giving environment. And I’m excited to hear of others who are notlimiting themselves to currently trending thoughts about age.
One person I recently heard about was 90-something track star Olga Kotelko. Kotelko now holds 26 world records for her age group in track and field. She says, “Anyone who stops learning is old. Knowledge is power. Age is but a number.” And Kotelko feels that she has more world records in store for the future!
She values a positive attitude, good diet, and an active mind. But not everyone successfully breaks through the limitation of aging because of these behaviors. So what’s the key component for success in challenging those limits?
The key, I’ve found, is having a spiritual framework to guide me through my daily activities. And research backs up the idea that prayer and religious worship are beneficial to healthy aging. Dr. William Strawbridge found – in a long-term study – that spirituality was linked to lowered blood pressure, a stronger immune system, a greater sense of wellbeing, and the possibility to live up to 23% longer. Health and spiritualityresearcher Dr. Harold Koenig found similar benefits to religious services in his aging studies.
But is spirituality only to be used to maintain health while aging? Who wouldn’t agree with Dr. Drew Leder when he says no? He writes: “A growing number of people think otherwise. They have begun advocating a different approach to aging: treating the later years as a new, unique stage in life…”
From Moses in the Old Testament to Zacharias and Elisabeth in the New Testament, the Bible reminds us of individuals with progressive, unlimited views that defy the traditional limitations of aging. Mary Baker Eddy, a nineteenth-century researcher who wrote extensively about the link between health and spirituality, also had a more expansive view of age when she wrote, “Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”
Traditional views of birth, life, and death are being turned on their head as scientists, health researchers, and all of us regular folks come to understand that aging does not have to be a time of weakness and limitation. And with these new views I hope to see many more people like Olga Kotelko winning world records and breaking other barriers!
Don Ingwerson is in Media and Government Relations for Christian Science in Southern California.
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April 15, 2014 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.