Exercising Decision Making
I have taken up a new type of exercise. I am happy about it but also uncertain. Just so no one out there thinks they are alone, in the mental acrobatics we all engage in, I will explain why I am split between happy about it or uncertain. Anytime I make a decision, I am torn over the alternatives and benefit vs. cost.
We should be able to make decisions confidently by the time we are 50. Most of us have had some pretty good practice up until now. We have probably made some life changing choices in the previous years. Weighed the pros and cons of which job offer to accept, picked the city or suburb to move to and selected the home and made all kinds of decisions from religion to child rearing to the styles of furniture and china patterns. I know myself well enough now to know that I can trust my instincts to pick well. So why is it so much harder for me to make decisions lately?
Scientists have shown that the older we get the more difficult it is to take risks and consequently to make decisions. Additionally scientists have tied this to cognitive function. I would like to suggest that making decisions, even the easy ones, like where to go for dinner or what to do this afternoon, to the really challenging ones like should I downsize to an apartment from a home or should I draw Social Security this year or wait until I am 70, should be treated like a cognitive exercise. These keep the brain sharp, make life more interesting and forces us to confront challenge. All of the above help us maintain our youthfulness.
Cost is always a huge factor for me, figuratively and literally. It doesn’t only mean what I could be doing instead, but it also means the actual cost. Not something I like to brag about, but I can OBSESS over money. I bring this up because this is a common concern when we retire. I waver back and forth constantly about whether some expenditure is frivolous (unbecoming) or necessary (justifying).
I got into this quite by accident. I used to go to Weight Watchers in the Ansonia, a beautiful edifice originally built to be one of the grandest New York hotels. When weighing in or going to a meeting I would see young women going in and out of the office next door. They were dressed in exercise clothing, looked tres chic and were guzzling water as if working out was part of whatever was going on in there. When the pool in my building was closed for renovations I needed an alternative to my daily swimming and a light bulb switched on, and I went in and inquired.
My first question was are there women my age? From there I secondarily considered cost, scheduling and what exactly is “barre”? It is a total body workout focused on weights, cardio and strength endurance at a barre. It is the latest fad since spinning, the new and popular exercise obsession in NYC and other down and uptown urban centers. Offered at all health clubs and studios set up for barre alone, I tried Equinox classes, at the suggestion of my neighbor and checked out the neighborhood JCC as well. I decided on Physique 57 because they have a one month long introductory trial at almost half the regular cost and no commitment other than the month or one at a time class as opposed to having to join for a year.
So I have made a choice, I’m getting a great work out and taking up barre, loving it so far, in pain much of the time and feeling pretty pleased with my mostly keeping up with the adversity of the workout.
Next blog: I counted today! Two others and I were the only participants in the class of 35 who are over fifty.