Fingertip pushups at age 92
(No. 14) "You'll have to pry this phone from my cold dead fingers," Maggie May. By Stephen P. Williams
(Please tap the heart, above, so the algorithms will treat me well.)
But first, this: The new senior moment. Doctors say trouble using a smart phone can be a sign of age-related dementia; you thought confiscating the cars keys was hard — try taking away Dad’s smart phone.
Goals: Smirking while pushupping. Photo by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash
Whether I’m going for a swim, or to lift weights or jog, I usually do 30 pushups in three sets of 10 every time I go to the gym. I never want to do these pushups, and I never raise my count, because I find them oppressive and demanding. Pushups are like the worst relationship you could imagine. Except that there are many payoffs.
Twentieth century fitness guru Jack Lalanne did pushups even in his 90s (though at that age he could no longer do a thousand at a time). He told the New York Times that he hated pushing himself like that, but he liked the results. Pushups work your entire body. They build arm muscles, your back, your abs, your legs, your toes and your wrists. They get your heart pumping, which may explain why a Harvard survey found that in men, the greater your capacity for doing pushups, the less risk you face of suffering heart issues, including a heart attack.
At least with me, they also test my metaphorical heart, and soul. If I’m feeling easy, I’ll just begin my workout with the pushups, and get it over with. If not, I’ll procrastinate, and they will haunt me through my other exercises. They are an expression of my desire to get strong, because getting down on the ground and hoisting up my body is generally not fun. But they’re important. Many experts assert that the ability to do pushups is the most straightforward indicator of how healthy we are, especially as we age.
These “girl” pushups will defeat most men. It’s possible to hurt your shoulders, back or wrists if you do pushups incorrectly, so pay attention.
Jack Lalanne built his physique working at Muscle Beach, on the Santa Monica boardwalk, and later hosted a TV show dedicated to inspiring couch potatoes everywhere. He was a constant presence on the tube in my childhood, wearing his dark grey flight suit (the TV was black and white). Somehow, when he’d get down to demonstrate one-armed pushups, he didn’t seem vain or arrogant. He seemed like a friend who was giving you a boost.
Still, when he started doing his super charged pushups, stretching his arms out on the mat above his head and balancing only on his fingertips and toes, he seemed superhuman. And kind of a joke at the same time.
“What the hell do doctors know about exercise? Most of them know zero. You gotta push elderly people to failure like anybody else. Then the body responds.” — Jack Lalanne.
Lalanne always emphasized good form. This was back in the day of “girl” pushups (now called modified pushups), but Lalanne’s wife, Elaine Lalanne (worth marrying him just for the name, right?) was still whipping out more or less regular pushups at age 90.
You’ve earned some slack on form when you’re 90 years old.
This article tells you how to do 14 different types of pushups, from the Spiderman style to the standard issue army pushup, along with the benefits of each. Good phone reading at the gym. Just remember to do them slowly — the slower you go, the better you’ll feel.
Harvard heart and pushup study.
Do pushups slowly.
Calculate if you’re doing enough pushups.
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