THE BLOG
11/21/2013 03:51 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Getting Older Is Not For Sissies

You may have noticed that I haven't written a post in a long time. (Or, maybe you haven't noticed!) The truth is, I haven't been able to. I have been suffering from frozen shoulder. It doesn't sound too bad, does it? Be assured, it is. For eight months, I was unable to lift my arm without whimpering like a puppy. I was woken by an excruciating pain every time my exhausted body attempted to grab some sleep, leaving me red-eyed and worn out. I couldn't type, cook (okay, I admit, I can't cook at the best of times), sit for long, do simple chores, raise my arm, drive, or pick up anything with my right hand... you get the picture.

This isn't a post to make you feel depressed or sorry for me, although sympathy is always welcome. Having now been dealt with by a specialist, I decided to alert you to one simple fact I had forgotten; we are getting older and need to make sure we take care of ourselves more than when we were younger and much suppler.

I am not the only one to have suffered recently. Friends also my age have been collapsing in their droves with bad backs, pulled ligaments and general illnesses. We should have taken preventative measures. We ought to have anticipated these setbacks. Instead, we chose to continue as we always had or were too busy to take note that we needed to change. If only we had read up on potential problems for middle-aged people such as arthritis, diabetes and cardio-vascular problems. It is often easy to prevent some of these "illnesses." It seems if we make small adjustments in our diets and to our exercise regimes we should reach old age without too many problems.

I learned that frozen shoulder can be associated with changing hormone levels, genetics and history of injury in the past to that area. (I broke my collar bone when I was a child after an encounter with a clothesline.) I wish I'd known all this beforehand. I would have made sure I was fuelled with super foods to keep me healthy and kept my gym membership alive. I wouldn't have skulked in my room typing every day, and eating endless bags of jelly sweets. I would have been prepared for this.

The upshot of this episode is that I have now changed my lifestyle and diet, along with Mr Grumpy's. We have improved our nutrition through small changes such as adding pumpkin, flaxseed and sunflower seeds to our morning cereal for beneficial Omega 3 and 6 oils that improve joints and heart health. We eat more fruit, less carbohydrate, much less fat and enjoy smaller, more nutrient-rich meals. We walk every day, regardless of the weather and stay active. I don't spend all day behind the computer. Yes, simple changes, but ones that might help us reach old age without having to head off to the doctor's surgery every few months.

Taking exercise is important at any stage of our lives, but now might be a time to consider the following: walking, simple weight-lifting, core training exercises, and eating sufficient protein. We women need to be aware that the risk of osteoporosis skyrockets after menopause (oestrogen is needed to help lay down bones) and should incorporate strength training sessions to build muscle and bone strength, burn fat and rev our metabolisms.

Of course, there are fitness alternatives and if you are not one of life's natural gym bunnies, then why not have a go at an activity like dancing? Take up Salsa, belly dancing, or even Bollywood dancing. You could, of course, follow the example of Sun Fenqin who took up pole dancing in her sixties and became an internet sensation.

Men and women can enjoy dance classes. Mr. Edward Clarke, a retired baker born in Wrexham says more men should take up fitness classes. Aged 96, he is mastering Zumba, the Latin dance-inspired fitness program, which was created in Colombia and has become a fitness craze. Mr. Clarke, who has been a keen dancer all his life, is the oldest member of the Zumba Gold over-50s dance club that meets every Thursday. His philosophy about life and his hobby is sensible: "Time is valuable. Use it."

Almost any form of dancing will certainly burn calories and ensure you tone up. Whether you take up walking or dancing, be mindful that now is the time to recognise that your body needs some TLC. Pamper it a little, feed it well and have some fun.

As for me, I'm off to my physiotherapist for some agonising exercises to help me regain use of my arm, and then I think I'll sign up for some hip hop dance classes.