MY DAD WITH US KIDS ON AN OUTING IN IOWA AROUND 1960
Back when I was a kid in the 1950s and 60s, so many well known facts about health consequences were not common knowledge. For example, we didn’t even think about providing sunglasses to children, and I don’t remember ever hearing of anything called sun screen. We used suntan lotion instead to increase the sun damage! Good thinking, huh? I had a friend in high school who skipped school at the hottest part of the day just to really burn her skin.
Even in my late teens, when I was fortunate enough to spend a few months in southern Thailand, I used no sun screen. Today I have plenty of sun damage on my face, neck and chest to show for my bad judgment back then. And guess what? Sun damage is so obvious and UGLY as you age, not to mention so many wrinkles! I also damaged the retina at the back of one eye by having light colored eyes and not protecting them better. Now I have to wear dark sunglasses or I get headaches.
Another painful consequence for me, one I’m just beginning to realize in the past few years is shoulder, elbow and hand damage from overuse of my right arm. Sure, I know so much computer use in the past forty years hasn’t helped a bit, but I can highly recommend to those younger than me to not over use one side of your body. My left side seems brand new while my right arm, hip and knee complain constantly. Start to raise awareness right now how much you may depend on one side of your body for everything, and switch it up as soon as you can! Don’t wait until it hurts to use your right arm to realize you also have a left arm.
Something many boomers are realizing too late is how important good posture is while sitting and especially driving. Those who drive for a living in various careers can and do get stuck in one position for life. Notice how you sit and move even if it seems unconscious. Start doing stretches every day to combat being stuck in certain postures. Yoga is a great start to maintain spinal and upper body flexibility. Don’t wait. Do it NOW.
We also had no routine screenings for diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer when I was young. My Mom had to find her own breast lump in her thirties and for that reason she is still with us today. Mike’s Mom didn’t know about colon cancer and died at age 53. Do those screenings on a regular basis. They save thousands of lives every year.
I learned a little too late how to protect my brain properly. I realize now I am not alone in the bike accident department, especially past age 50. Balance and head injuries are not the same past age 50. If I had hit concrete instead of dirt headfirst back in 2008, I wouldn’t be here today. As it is, I was unconscious for hours afterward and don’t remember most of it. Today I live with extra brain challenges every single day because of one stupid mistake. Writing is one of the ways I meet these challenges.
And as crazy as it might seem, something I didn’t know when I was young, food truly is your best medicine. If you start out eating a wide variety of natural foods from birth instead of processed junk, you will thank yourself decades later. It is actually difficult to overeat real foods like eggs, dairy, nuts, lean meat, vegetables and fruit. Learn how to listen to your body and you will be less likely to stress eat instead of eating only when actually hungry.
Learn to love a few different types of exercise and do them for the rest of your life. Walking always makes me feel better mentally and physically. Gardening also keeps me active and happy. Find your favorite activities and keep improving every day of your life.