How Old is Too Old

by Sherri ~ July 28th, 2009. Filed under: Sherri's Musings.

For a myriad of reasons, the majority of people who take up recreational and sea kayaking tend to be in their 40’s or older.  I suspect that younger people have a lot going on in their lives building a career, raising a family, taking care of a new house, etc. and don’t have a lot of extra time for new hobbies.   I know that in my own experience, time slips by too quickly and you begin to realize that you won’t be able to fulfill all the exciting plans and dreams you once had.  (I once secretly dreamed of being the first woman to play in the NBA.  I now find that I’m old enough to be the parent of most NBA players.  Scratch that dream off the list.)  So we seek out new plans and dreams to replace the ones that we have grown too old to fulfill.

I get a lot of middle age and older people who ask me about trying kayaking or taking lessons.  They tell me their ages and start to explain why they might not be able to kayak.  When I stop them and say that at age 48, I’m one of the youngsters in my kayaking group, they seem surprised (and pleased). “In fact,” I tell them, “some of my kayaking associates are heading into their 70’s and still paddle at a high level.”  Kayakers in their 60’s are a dime a dozen.  (My apologies to the many people I paddle with who are in their 60’s.  You are all special friends to me, but there are a lot of you out there.)  Why am I telling you all this?  Frankly, because you are never too old to start kayaking.

Kayaking has many benefits as an activity.  First of all, it is generally low impact to the joints.  Lifelong joggers and backpackers can give their hips and knees a rest from the decades of pounding.  Done correctly, it can be a total body exercise routine (and it works the abs!).  You can paddle as fast or as slow as you like or need to, and you can choose a boat that is as stable or unstable as you feel comfortable in.   There is plenty to learn (and I’m talking knowledge as well as physical skill) so it keeps the brain active and interested for a long time.  It is an enjoyable pastime and encourages participants to stay active to maintain or improve their fitness levels.  It is an activity that complements other hobbies well, like fishing, photography, travel, and camping.  For most people, myself included, kayaking is non-competitive.  You do not need to feel judged by or compared to other paddlers.  On the other hand, for those who miss being in competitition, you can always find races to participate in.  There is also, however, a characteristic of kayaking that is hard to quantify.  You might say that it feeds the soul.

Are you still making excuses?  Do you lack flexibility?  Get a kayak with a large cockpit opening.  Do you need back support?  There are plenty of kayaks with very comfy and supportive backrests.  Worried about lifting a heavy kayak on top of your SUV?  You can find kayaks that weigh as little as 35 lbs (some less depending on how much you want to spend), and you can buy lightweight trailers that make loading and transporting boats a breeze.  Even if you don’t have an SUV, I pull a trailer with as many as 8 kayaks behind a Toyota Corolla.  Never been very athletic or coordinated?  It doesn’t matter.  Your brain is a wondrous organ that can change and adapt as you try learning new skills.  It may just take a little longer than when you were 20.  If you think you have an obstacle that prevents you from kayaking, I bet there is a solution out there to your problem.  I’m willing to help you find it.

Quit wasting precious time.  If you are interested in kayaking (or canoeing), get out there and do it.  None of us is getting any younger, but thankfully, none of us is too old!

Sherri

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