The Saturday Evening Post

KILLING OURSELVES TO LIVE LONGER

The pressure most of us feel to remain fit, slim, and in control of one’s body does not end with old age — in fact, it only grows more insistent. Friends, family members, and doctors start nagging the aging person to join a gym, “eat healthy,” or, at the very least, go for daily walks. You may have imagined a reclining chair or a hammock awaiting you after decades of stress and, in the case of manual laborers, physical exertion. But no, your future more likely holds a treadmill and a lat pull, at least if you can afford to access these devices. One of the bossier self-help books for seniors commands:

Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. Sorry, but that’s it. No negotiations. No give. No excuses. Six days, serious exercise, until you die.

The reason for this draconian regime is that “once you pass the age of 50, exercise is no longer optional. You have to exercise or get old.” You may have retired from paid work, but you have a new job: going to the gym. “Think of it

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