Use It Or Lose It – No Really!

Jannine Myers

My father has been dealing lately with knee and lower back pain, not surprising given how active he is. But his pain – the result of cumulative wear and tear – has reached a certain threshold that has forced him to either modify or put some of his usual weekly activities on hold.

My mother on the other hand, moves about with relative ease – or to better clarify, with minimal pain. Unlike my father, she’s more of an indoor person; she’d much rather stay in and read a book or stroll down to one of the social gatherings on-site at their semi-retirement village. Besides flirting over the years with a few sporting endeavors (netball in her youth, and golf and lawn bowling later on), she has never really put her body under too much stress or tension.

As I think about their situation, and the all-too-familiar phrase “Use It Or Lose It,” I have to admit that I envy my mother for being pain-free. But isn’t it ironic that she – the one who has hardly exercised, and with a far less impressive physical profile – is also the one who does not struggle with chronic pain!

Still, when weighing up the pros and cons, I think one has to consider personal lifestyle preferences, and what will ultimately provide fulfillment. How much will it matter to stay fit and active for as long as possible, versus settling for a mostly indoor and sedentary lifestyle?

Also important, is contemplating who might (or might not be) in your life during your retirement years. As much as my mother jokingly boasts about her pain-free body, she would not be able to deny that her quality of life is as great as it is because she has a husband who has worked hard to maintain a certain level of vitality.

Essential day-to-day tasks, for example – cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping – are no longer manageable for her. And forget about the road trips she still enjoys, or social outings beyond the village, since venturing out would not be possible without my father.

So yes, my mother is incredibly fortunate to have reaped the rewards of a gently-used body, but she is also incredibly fortunate to have someone do for her what her body can no longer do.