Three Words to Stop Using…Now


“How old are you?”

“56, why?”

“Really? Huh. Well, you look really good…”


………………Wait for it…

………………………………….Wait for it…


Maybe that’s happened to you. Or maybe you wish it would.

At what age do you shift from just “looking good” (whatever that means) to “looking good for your age”?

And at what age are you supposed to look or act not so good?

40? 50? 100?

And what age are we being compared to? A 20 year old? What if the twenty year old can barely mosey around the block, is 60 lbs overweight, and couldn’t run 100 meters to save his or her life?

The truth is, we live in a youth obsessed culture that makes growing older something akin to a Stephen King horror novel. Everything in life is somehow related to a mysterious period of time when, supposedly, everyone was better looking, bigger, stronger, faster, smarter.

That’s not true. I, for one, am in many ways, in better physical condition now, at age 56, than I was at age 36. So, at least for me, younger was not all that better. And I know a number of other people in the same boat.

What’s Behind “Looking Good”

What is it about a person that causes us to think, “Wow, they look good!”?

Here are a few things to consider and age is not even on the list:

  • Posture. Anytime you stand, sit, or walk tall with well aligned posture, you take years off your calendar age. You instantly “appear” more youthful. It doesn’t matter if you’re 55 or 85, have wrinkles or not. We make certain jusdgements about people based on their posture. ((Naumann, L. P., S. Vazire, et al. (2009). “Personality judgments based on physical appearance.” Pers Soc Psychol Bull 35(12): 1661-71)).Upright, well aligned posture is youthifying.
  • Watch your waist. Generally, an expanding waistline is associated with a number of health problems that show up in advanced years. By focusing on your overall health, you’ll improve it, drop a pant size or two, and appear more youthful.
  • Muscle tone. As you age, some of the skin changes that show up are related to changes in hormone levels but that’s not the only factor. Muscle tone can alter the relative “tightness” of the overlying skin and reduce sags and wrinkles we associate with an “older” person. Not just any type of exercise will change your muscle tone though. You have to stress the muscles to a moderately high level of fatigue so, for example, walking, even briskly, will do little to help the muscle tone of your arms…or legs (although it may help your heart and lungs).
  • Agility. What’s that? Basically, it’s moving quickly while keeping your balance. Have you ever tripped over a rug or a raised edge in a sidewalk and had to react in a moment to keep from falling on your face? That’s one form of agility and it happens to be something that fades like an old photograph as you age…unless you train in a way that helps improve it.
  • Energy level. I think this is one of the most misunderstood terms used when it comes to aging. We tend to associate the bubbly, out-going, smiley-all-the-time person with both youthfulness and energy. And while that may be true, not everyone is so effervescent. Having energy also means being interested in what’s going on around you; staying relevant. There’s perhaps no quicker route to “old-age”, even if you’re 40, than to be closed minded and “out of touch”. You have to have enough energy to spend though on learning and being exposed to new and different things. When you run low on energy, it’s just to much work to learn something new. Hey, I’m at least on Twitter. Still working on what it’s really for but I’m there….sort of 🙂
  • Laugh. Yep. An oldie but goodie. Eric Clapton, one of the greatest blues guitarists ever, was asked how he keeps his music interesting to a younger generation. He said, “I am not concerned with them liking my music. I am concerned about me finding their music interesting. When you get older, you get stodgy. I don’t want to get stodgy.” One way to keep from getting stodgy is to laugh…a lot. I’m fortunate. I’m married to a woman who makes me laugh almost everyday about something. And those of you who know Ellen know what I mean. She finds a funny angle on just about anything. You need at least three to four good laughs a day. I have no scientific evidence for this but if you can give me a good reason not to laugh at least that much, I will gladly stop laughing.1

It’s time we all stopped adding the phrase, “For your age” to any sentence.

You’re really fit….for your age.

You’re really flexible….for your age.

You’re really strong…for your age.

You’re really have great balance…for your age.

And on and on…

Lose the “For Your Age”. How about it?

PS –

If you want to know how fit you are and how well you perform, stay tuned. We have some very cool stuff coming your way soon that will inspire you to think and move in a an entirely different way. We’ll help you understand why you might feel older than you want to and give you a clear cut plan on changing your situation. The feedback from our beta testers on this idea has been fantastic. Hold on to your seats.

PPS – if you enjoyed this post, help a friend, family member or colleague by sharing it.

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About Doug Kelsey

DK_bball_post Doug Kelsey is a physical therapist and healthy lifestyle “guru”. Doug is formerly an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Oklahoma Health Science and is the owner of Sports Center Physical Therapy in Austin, Tx. He writes on how to “actively age” – how to get healthy and fit over your lifetime and take charge of your health. He and his brother Joshua created the ActiveAge Blueprint.

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  1. Neuhoff CC, Schaefer C. Effects of laughing, smiling, and howling on mood. Psychol Rep 2002 Dec 91:3 Pt 2 1079-80 []