Beyond good health

What does it mean to live well in the over-50 stage of life?

I’ve been thinking about this as we put together this annual Living Well Issue.

Isn’t wellness just a made-up term to sell massage sessions, yoga classes and facials?

Apparently not! In fact, the World Health Organization defines the term as “the realization of the fullest potential of an individual physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually and economically, and the fulfillment of one’s role expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace and other settings.”

Wow. That’s a LOT to strive for, especially for people facing the challenges of aging, including — what Dr. Michael Spilane discusses in this issue — general “wear and tear.”

This month’s Cover Star — 75-year-old Larry Gleason, the founder of Gleason’s Gymnastic School, celebrating its 50th year — embodies many dimensions of modern-day wellness.

He’s been successful in his career as a champion of athletics.

And his philosophy is one of helping children (and increasingly adults) find success in all areas of their lives, not just sports.

“Gymnastics … has the ability to help kids get stronger not only physically, but academically and mentally,” he said.

Another thing I find inspiring about Gleason is that, after 50 years of building his business, he’s actually taking some time for himself, traveling and staying active: Gleason participated in a motorcycle race in Ireland last year. In November, he plans to go windsurfing in Venezuela.

Back at the gym, he tries to promote the benefits of staying active to his older adult students, who take a variety of classes, too.

“Being active is natural,” he said. “It’s our sedentary lives that are slowly killing us — it goes against our natural state. Exercise has been proven beyond a doubt to help us live longer and better.”

Has Gleason figured out all eight dimensions
of wellness as touted by the experts?

Maybe not, but he seems off to an awfully good start!

Sarah Jackson is the editor of Minnesota Good Age. She lives in Minnetonka. Write her at [email protected].