Mindful Choices: Dana Young’s Fit After Fifty Story

by Alison McIrvin
Dana water skiing

Most baby boomers grew up playing popular sports such as soccer, tennis, or track. Limited TV time and lots of playing outside provided a childhood with days of activities. Dana Young is no different in that regard. Dana’s high school years were busy with track, cross country, and tennis, which he especially enjoyed due to the friendships he developed on the court.

However, as Dana moved into his 30s and 40s, he was kept busy raising a family and completing home improvement projects, with limited free time for pursuing personal fitness and recreation. A huge retaining wall project on his home’s sloping lot was a strength training endeavor that kept Dana busy and fit for five years starting in 2000. Who needs a gym when you have endless truckloads of brick and dirt to move?

[Related: Gardening and Yard Work as Fitness for Baby Boomers]

Dana and his daughter at the beginning of their retaining wall project
Before beginning the retaining wall
Dana's completed retaining wall
The completed wall

Once home improvement began to taper off in his 40s, Dana felt a need for a new physical outlet, and returning to tennis was his natural choice. At age 50, Dana currently plays two to four times a week, goes for an occasional run, and enjoys water and alpine skiing.

Despite years of hard physical exertion with home improvement projects, Dana’s back went out  seemingly out of nowhere when moving a relatively light box. The resulting herniated disc put him out of commission for a very long time, requiring extensive physical therapy to get him back on the court, which he credits as his motivation to get his back into a healthy condition.

[Related: Fitness for Injury Recovery for Baby Boomers]

Dana skiing with friends
Dana enjoys alpine skiing in his free time.

Dana chose to focus on core strengthening exercises, stretching techniques, and a TENS unit during his physical therapy to help him return to the activities that he loves.

However, Dana’s tendency is to go after every ball and run down shots that stretch his physical abilities to the limit, putting himself at greater risk for injuries. Dana realized that he had to be mindful and make choices on the court that would not force him to the sidelines again.

Hacks that work:

  • Relying on friends and family to hold him accountable to meet up for games or activities
  • Choosing how he moves when back on the court
  • Looking for activities that fit naturally into what he enjoys
  • Taking glucosamine for joint mobility
  • Parking three-fourths a mile from his office and taking the stairs
Dana and friends while hiking
Dana relies on his friends to motivate him to stay active.

Moving forward, Dana wants to travel and find adventure throughout his later years. The mindful choices he’s currently making are positioning him well for this future, and for that he credits his mom as an inspiration to him.

“She is more active and capable at 75 than most people are at 55. She sets the bar high.”

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