I was very energized yesterday morning after realizing I did not need to work @ the hospital. Assuming that I may not work so many hours in the Nursing Home, I could come late in the day. I could have a few hours of free time in the morning.
I went to the park for a planned walk of at least 3 miles - a modest and moderate cardio for my 61 y/o body, I ended ‘testing’ my legs for a 5-mile jog-walk pace. Getting beyond my planned 3 miles is what I call too much enthusiasm. I did the same thing the day before, despite not having to exercise in the gym or the park (it was my birthday and the sun was scorching at 9 AM), I squeezed in many of my missed tasks into a limited time, including yard work, that I felt like having a full workout day. I knew I was exhausted because I fell asleep without intending to. The exhaustion seeped into my bones and the moment I hit my bed at early noon to rest my body while reading a book, well, I just blanked out. I opened my eyes and it was already dark. It was 9:30 p.m. I ate a quick dinner and drove to my empty rental unit a few blocks away. It was empty because it was for sale and immediately returned to the house, to resume my sleep since I was at it already.
So the gist of my story is this: overexercising at my age denies me the other activities that I want to do. Reading, for example, is a task I love to do but overexercise leads me to exhaustion that leads me to sleep so goodbye to reading. I tend to ignore the collateral impacts of overdoing one task at the expense of another. I failed to curb my enthusiasm. The 5-mile jogging had collateral damage to my endurance. Fatigue resulted from it which I denied as I pushed myself to go to work, which was at least 5 hours (6 including the driving time). Hence the oversleeping by the afternoon thru the early evening.
There is a delicate balance in being active and being at rest at a certain age. This balance is the secret to a happy and healthy life. Too much exercise, too much reading, too much socializing, too much sleeping, too many responsibilities, too much of everything can actually damage a person. Moderation is the key.
And what are the aspects of life we need to balance? I can think of Physical, Mental, and Spiritual.
The physical aspect deals with the quality of life - the joy of independence, the ability to go anywhere we want without worrying about disability, limits, and uncertainties. We are illness-free or at least illness-controlled and we have hobbies that keep us occupied, busy, and happy. The Japanese call this hobby ikigai.
The Mental aspect is not limited to pure alertness and problem-solving skills or keeping one’s mind sharp. It also involves peace of mind and concomitant with that, security in terms of finances, social network, familial and community needs.
And finally, as I get older, I am turning more and more into the Spirit that I believe dwells inside me. Baruch Spinoza calls it the node, the wi-fi that is fed by God or the Supreme Being’s satellite. It is the communication highway between myself and Nature which is all part of a Universe created by the One.
I find these three as basic integral parts of human existence and they all need to be attended to every day. They should coexist equally all the time. We cannot get over-focused on one aspect while ignoring the rest.
And this is my pitfall. I tend to overdo my exercises. Studies after studies show that overexercise is no better than being sedentary, it is very good only up to a certain point. As I have experienced, the overdrive of exercise sacrifices my mental exercise. Thankfully my spiritual aspect in life is protected.
My spiritual meditation remains intact every day. I meditate in the early mornings. I do it on a personal level, something I don’t share (until now of course). I don’t have any elaborate ritual to follow, it is simply thanking God for my blessings and organizing my day ahead while seeking guidance and wisdom.
What I miss most is my mental health. We all have our own way of keeping ourselves mentally good and sharp. In my case, I find reading, writing, and computer programming as good sources of mental nurturing. Programming keeps me mentally sharp as I deal with coding challenges it poses to me at all times. I find reading nonfiction and anything scientific in the fields of cosmos, physics, and philosophy as exciting. I also read fiction for the sake of fun.
I am not sure if the Internet is good enough to keep me sharp. There was a recent study suggesting that being Internet savvy among seniors has reduced their early onset of dementia. Yet there are also studies that too much pre-digested information from the Internet can render the brain lazy in processing information. Only time will tell.
As for me, I am still working on allocating more time to reading and studying and programming as my mental exercise. I am hoping I can workout without getting too exhausted. If only i can read a book without falling asleep after 1 or 2 pages, I would be very happy.