Growing Older: Reader Essay by Andrea Hjelm

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderAndreaHjelm_Inline300 The physical aspect of aging is just one piece of the puzzle. The other is the mental aspect. The mind is a busy place. I thought that college was the most important mental exercise, the end-all, but it was only the beginning. It was the enabler for life’s processes. Now, I find that continuing education, either in the work place, life, or school, keeps taxing one’s mental capacity and that is part of the magic formula for a healthy life.

Giving back to the community is something we need to do as we age. We have many life experiences that we can offer to the next generations.

Having been a cheerleader at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s meant gymnastics, pyramids, pushing huge pom-poms, and dancing for football, basketball, and hockey games. Body and lungs were worked to capacity.

As years go by, one finds that at age 40 the band seems to be playing a little faster and the arms are a little slower. By 50 there is less endurance, by 60 one tires easily, by 70, marching in the Homecoming Parade seems a lot longer!

My spirit and my mind are the same as when I was 20, my voice cheers loudly, and I still remember the cheers and the Rouser, but I find that it takes an army to keep me moving in a liquid manner. Pilates strengthens, stretches, and works on balance; weight lifting keeps me at osteopenia, avoiding osteoporosis; a bike, elliptical, or treadmill keep the heart muscle strong; massages put everything back in place!

Aging is not a big deal, it just takes a big effort to minimize it!

- Andrea Hjelm (B.S. ’65), Minneapolis

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