So what’s wrong with acting your age?

We almost certainly said it to our children – maybe not always helpfully, ‘Act your age’ perhaps adding ‘not your shoe size!’ But at times I feel the need to give a similar message to some active retired people.

In my days in youth ministry, it was sad when my 50-year-old colleagues were dressing like teenagers. They may have felt they looked cool but the reality was they looked more than slightly strange.

In much the same way, I now meet those in their 70s who claim they are far too young to rock up to anything for designed for retired people or even to hang out with them.

True, age can be as much to do with your attitude and state of mind as it is the level of your body’s decay. But, it seems to me, there are those who cannot bear to be designated ‘old’.

My message is ‘face up to reality and embrace the age you are. Put your birth certificate above your mantelpiece and reflect what it says in your choices and attitude’.

God brought me into the world in 1943 – definitely a vintage year! Where’s the problem with living with that reality? This is who I am – how God made me and the best thing I can do is to serve Him as I am, not how I wish or imagine myself to be.

For our parents’ generation retirement meant resting after years of working. But now people are asking what to do with their lives. Their answer is sometimes limited to golf, short tennis, walking football, line dancing or Saga cruises.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those. It’s great that the retired and active have the health and income to engage in a great variety of activities for many more years than those retiring in the past. Bit this means there’ll be a peer group around to share their lives for the next few decades, including sharing the relevance of Jesus.

In which case, as the old fashioned Wayside Pulpit asks, ‘What on earth are you doing for heaven’s sake?’ Act your age – join up with your fellow retirees and do something that grows God’s kingdom. What is wrong with being 74 and hanging out with other 74 year olds?

Those who are retired and active are one of a church’s greatest resources. But that’s only true if they make themselves available – as those committed to being part of God’s plan for themselves and for others.

We really can’t say ‘I’ve done my bit’. Retirement – what’s been called ‘my time to be selfish’ is a social construct not a biblical norm. No! Let’s accept the challenge ahead – rejoicing in the opportunities.

This is no time to sit in an armchair wishing you were young again but it is your moment to ask God to shape your new world as you work with others in your church and community.

When I watch cricket I get itchy fingers, wishing I was on the field again. I can still hit a ball but the challenge of a quick single over 18 yards is beyond me. But that’s no reason to retire from activity completely. So I’ve turned to golf and am enjoying accepting my limitations and re-adjusting my expectations. I hope you’re doing something of the same – by joining in with the glorious band of your fellow retirees and serving God together.

So if you are up for acting your age and need some ideas there’s a huge amount of ideas and resources waiting for you on our website at here.

Dave Fenton:

Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach.

Do you have a ‘now I’m acting my age story’ to share? Then please do so in response to this blog or on our Facebook page.

The inside story: How our body changes with age – and how to fight back.

Retirement isn’t the only thing that happens when you reach a certain age. Our body also undergoes some interesting – and not always helpful – changes too.

And, as these changes impact our health and the length of time we’ll live, they are not to be ignored.

First the bad news!

As we age our skin gets looser and drier, muscles become smaller and weaker, the speed at which our body burns calories slows down so we more easily gain weight, hearing may fade, and eyesight becomes less sharp.

On top of that, memory might fail us in a variety of ways. And sleep can become more elusive.

This natural process can’t really be avoided, but there are ways to slow it down if we make lifestyle changes and adopt healthy habits. Even if we should have taken action sooner, it’s never too late to begin.

Here are three ways to keep the impact of aging at bay and so make the most of your after-work years.

1. Fighting back through exercise

When we were younger we were more physically active, even without thinking about it. Just keeping life and a family going gave your muscles a great workout without going near a gym. If we played sport, even better.

However, age has changed all that. We are now less likely to have reasons to be physically active and maybe less able to be sporty.

What can we do?

 Getting fitter through a regular activity – ideally one we enjoy – is the most effective, youth-giving, medicine we could ever have.

Even just 15 to 20 minutes of activity each day helps stave off a multitude of health conditions as well as aches and pains, gives us more energy and makes our body and mind more efficient. And it will do wonder for our heart, the engine room of our body.

There are so many ways to exercise: walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, dancing, fitness videos and classes. Many offer clubs especially for those no longer in the flush of youth and working out with others is proven to be good for us mentally.

Even choosing to walk and not ride, and use stairs instead of the escalator or lift, can play its part. Every little helps!

2. Fighting back through weight loss:

We may not be eating very differently in our retirement but our body now burns fewer calories and we are moving about less. That’s why putting on pounds is almost inevitable unless we take action.

Indeed, right now you may be walking around carrying extra weight that’s the equivalent to a holiday suitcase. Lose it and you’ll feel years younger very quickly. You’ll also be healthier by taking pressure off your joints and vital organs – especially your heart.

What can you do?

There’s no shortage of weight-loss plans out there. Find a method that suits you as an individual but go for one from a reputable source – nothing gimmicky – and stick to it.

Why not have a look at my The Stay Young Diet created especially for those beyond middle-age. Check it out on the AfterWorkNet website at The Stay Young Diet.

This eating plan is distinctive because of the foods it’s based on – those rich in antioxidants which is key to fighting the ageing process. Antioxidants are found in those fruit and vegetables that are bright in colour and are bursting with life-enhancing vitamins and minerals.

3. Fighting back by being accountable

There’s evidence to show those setting out to make lifestyle changes do better if someone else is watching out for them in some way.

That’s a major key to the effectiveness of weight loss clubs – someone else will know how it is going. The thought of applause at weigh-in spurs you on. The reality of falling short is an encouragement not to say ‘just one more’!

Being accountable doesn’t have to involve joining in with others. One way is just to tell one or more of those closest to you what you are going for.

Even better is also to have a fitness or dieting buddy. Someone who’s as committed as you are to living healthier and longer.

Go for it.

Rosemary Conley CBE

Rosemary has helped tens of thousands to achieve and maintain a healthy life, through her diet and exercise programmes. At 65, she took up skating for ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ and still skates 6 years later.

Have you found an approach to health and fitness that works for you? Do share it by commenting on this blot or by joining our Facebook group

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife