What is up with the "too old" mindset (at least in the US)?

Being involved in more fitness-orientated groups I know and see many people who stay fit, active, trim well into their senior years. Yet there is this pervading mindset (at least in the US, I cannot speak to other countries) that once you're much over 40 you're "old" and can't do 'things' anymore - be they sports, staying fit, looking good, active, etc.

I see this dichotomy in my own family - my father in his 70's still rides thousands of miles a year on his bicycle, goes camping, travels, just a few years ago hiked the 7 highest mountains in the country...meanwhile my mother, who is 5 years younger than him, can hardly take her dog on a walk, and has numerous health issues that a lack of activity in her life has directly related to.
Yet if you talk to the two of them, my father will complain about his aches and pains way more, but goes and does the things anyways, whereas my mother has much more of a victim mindset and just "accepts" her situation (because improving it would suck and be boring and not particularly fun in any way).

I use them as an example, but it is something I see repeated over and over in the much larger circles I see. There are individuals who break the mold, but most people see living life as for the young, and once you're past 40, well, you're obsolete.
This drives me nuts! Yes, you have more aches and pains as you age, and you need to include a lot more "prevention" work in your workouts, but gosh darn it, done right there's no reason I can't do at 45 what I was doing at 25 - how I go about it won't look the same, but the end result sure can be...

Just wondering if anyone has ideas on where this mindset stems from as it seems pretty standard and pervasive in our culture.
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Replies

  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 461 Member
    Use it or lose it.
  • JaysFan82
    JaysFan82 Posts: 487 Member
    I'm 40 and am in better shape now than I was when I was 30. By far. I've lost 100 pounds since Feb. Lol you should see me fly around the baseball diamond now.
  • Hiawassee88
    Hiawassee88 Posts: 24,544 Member
    edited September 2022
    The Rocky Mountain states hold stats for some of the most active and least obese. Respectfully, we don't spend much time in the gym. It takes a rugged individual to live out here. There's farming and ranching, you can't coast on your laurels. Seniors can't stop until they drop out here in the wild, wild west. You'll rust.
  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,846 Member
    Just to be clear, I don't for one second believe I can't do things just because of my age (I do have an injury that limits a couple things, but it's more about working with/around it than not doing the things).
    I have goals and am determined to make them happen in my sport of choice, but I swear, just about every time I turn around there are some whispers or outright statements that I'm "too old" and should just settle for something "easier."
    It infuriates me - while I know it's more about their perceptions of themselves it seems to be a mindset even in the average american mind. Everyone focuses on the kids not the adults who are making it happen. Yes, age and injuries can affect things on some level, but I've seen plenty of "older" adults smoke a lot of kids/young adults.
  • plattef71
    plattef71 Posts: 32 Member
    The view on health in this country alone is sad. We have a group of older friends we spend a ton of time with and 6 of the 10 are overweight. That tends to wear on the body and does make it harder to get around. I am here to lose what I gained after 2 Achilles surgeries over the last 7 months. I became one of those.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,782 Member
    edited September 2022
    .
    oops, sorry, ...this post is a victim of the fact I can't delete something - ever - even if it hasn't been posted - once I type it in the text box. Fix that, MFP!!!
  • Retroguy2000
    Retroguy2000 Posts: 461 Member
    edited September 2022
    Sumiblue wrote: »
    It’s definitely a mindset issue. My mother is 80 and very sedentary. She is becoming more frail and is very afraid of falling. I’ve tried encouraging her to go for walks around her condo with a friend. Or do little weight bearing exercise routines at home. She doesn’t want to do it. Meanwhile, my 85 yr old MIL is pretty active. Goes for regular walks and does pool exercise classes where she lives. I plan to stay as active as I can while I age. I will be one of those senior hikers. And, at 53 I just bought roller skates.
    Similar with my mother. She isn't frail at 76 although she has minor problems, but my efforts to get her to go out for a walk a few times a week while it was summer, knowing that during winter it will be far less likely, were met with some resistance.

    You're braver than me getting skates. I can skate well enough, and I still have my old rollerblades from over 20 years ago, but I'd be worried about falling and tweaking my back. I hope you consider knee and elbow pads, maybe even a wrist guard, depending on your skill level and confidence.
  • Sumiblue
    Sumiblue Posts: 1,597 Member
    edited September 2022
    Sumiblue wrote: »
    It’s definitely a mindset issue. My mother is 80 and very sedentary. She is becoming more frail and is very afraid of falling. I’ve tried encouraging her to go for walks around her condo with a friend. Or do little weight bearing exercise routines at home. She doesn’t want to do it. Meanwhile, my 85 yr old MIL is pretty active. Goes for regular walks and does pool exercise classes where she lives. I plan to stay as active as I can while I age. I will be one of those senior hikers. And, at 53 I just bought roller skates.
    Similar with my mother. She isn't frail at 76 although she has minor problems, but my efforts to get her to go out for a walk a few times a week while it was summer, knowing that during winter it will be far less likely, were met with some resistance.

    You're braver than me getting skates. I can skate well enough, and I still have my old rollerblades from over 20 years ago, but I'd be worried about falling and tweaking my back. I hope you consider knee and elbow pads, maybe even a wrist guard, depending on your skill level and confidence.

    I def will be getting all the protective gear. I was a figure skater in my youth so I do have some base skills. But I roller skated a couple months ago and took 2 hard falls-and kept on skating. I love it!
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,826 Member
    Well in the US as people age, they usually get less active. And it starts almost after highschool IMO. Where they were forced to do PE, once out, the majority don't engage in anything physical. Heck people don't even like to walk anywhere opting for the closest parking space, taking escalators instead of stairs, and basically driving everywhere they go even if it's say a couple of blocks away. The mindset for the average American is just to work hard and make money, then enjoy it. Only 35% (I think it's even lower now) of the US population engage in physical fitness activities. Hence as they age, the use it or lose it motto comes in. They lose it. And by the time they are 50, they hurt, have joint pains, and are likely suffering from some issues by being overweight.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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