Sharpen the Saw

By  Dr. Andrew Crellin – West Warwick, RI

At the risk of offending my fellow readers and authors, I’ll admit it, I am not a big gym guy. Oh, I’ve spent plenty of time working out on treadmills, elliptical machines, stair steppers, free weights, nautilus (yes nautilus) Hammer Smith, gym balls, Universals, even a little P90X  (very little, that stuff’s hard) and a multitude of others. I enjoyed the burn (to some extent), the social aspect (as limited as it was), and the results. However, there was something lacking. I wasn’t looking forward to the workout experience. This made it all too easy to find something else to do besides going to the gym.

Let’s face it, work is important, right? And family? Nothing more important than family! Then there is the yard work, housework, errands, spending time with friends, blah, blah, blah.  I hear the chorus now: “Those are excuses, you need to make time to stay fit and healthy so you can do all those things you just listed, not just now while you are young (55), but your whole lifetime.” I could not agree with you more, fellow readers and authors. But that is not what gets me to run, stretch and lift weights in my precious free time. So I’ll tell you what does: team sports. I love them. I like to watch, but I love to play. And at 55 years old, it gets a little harder each year, which makes me have to work at it a little harder each year.

There is an old adage I repeat several times a week to my patients: “In our youth, we played sports to stay in shape, now we have to stay in shape to play sports.” And that is where the workouts come in.

Steven Covey refers to it as “sharpening the saw.” So if we want to keep playing and keep enjoying the physical and emotional pleasure athletics can bring us, we need to stay in shape. So for me, team sports is that motivation. I don’t miss a game unless I am sick, out of town or in jail.

Team sports offer you a different experience each and every game. With a competitive balance, they are unpredictable and exciting. And really, are you going to run faster after a ball that is rolling towards a goal in a tied match or on a treadmill? And if you are going to win some of those battles, you are going to have to spend some time “sharpening the saw.”

It’s not exactly the bonds of combat, but a shared experience of working towards a common goal with maximum effort and the expectation of a definitive outcome can create social bonds that can last a lifetime. If you want to keep hanging with that team and stay competitive, you better spend time “sharpening that saw.”

These days, there are many options for the advancing population. Currently, I play in an over 50 men’s senior baseball league and an over 40 co-ed soccer league. I played a half a year of high school baseball and no soccer.  There are many opportunities for beginners, and when you start at the beginning, you can look forward to your skills improving the more you play. And hey, when they stop improving, find another sport. I just googled “Kickball Rhode Island” and found a league in Warwick!

It seems every decade I reach, they create another category just for me. The over 58’s are but a couple of years away. There are many options for us that did not exist for our parents. Beyond golf, bowling and darts, there is volleyball, softball, ice and deck hockey, basketball and, of course, the racing team events like the BoldRdash!

Most of us saw our peak of physical activity and ability in high school and college because of the gifts of youth. I am here to tell you that you might have more in the tank than you think. As my patient Frank told me, “It’s all about managing the decline.” Finding that constantly evolving balance of staying active and avoiding injury is an active management process.

We all need something to motivate us to stay healthy and active. For me, it’s playing sports. That’s what keeps me stretching, running, and lifting weights. So I encourage you to think about getting back into the (a) game. Sharpen the saw and keep playing until they blow the whistle.

Dr. Andrew Crellin is both a Physical Therapist and Doctor of Chiropractic. He is a past president of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and is currently on staff at Women and Infants Hospital. Dr. Crellin utilizes skills sets from both PT and Chiropractic in treating his patients. He can be reached at 821-6091.

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