My 94 year-old grandfather recently took a fall and ended up in a nursing home. For the first month he was there, they were worried that he would fall if he was up and around, so they kept him in a chair that reclined or in bed 24-7. We became very worried when he began to sleep most of the day, and was confused when he was awake. Sure, he's 94, but this is the man who got rollerblades for his 70th birthday and used them! Then he got a kayak for his 80th, and a few years after that, he and my dad cycled the length of the Erie canal. It didn't seem right that a man as active and healthy as my grandfather should decline that quickly.
We decided that movement was what he needed. We asked the nursing home to get rid of the recliner and give him a wheelchair and a walker instead, and we hired a physical therapist. Guess what? After two weeks of physical therapy and daily walks, my grandfather is going back to independent living!
The health benefits of movement are well-documented. It doesn't have to be strenuous either. An exercise regimen that includes walking and gentle stretching can protect against memory loss, decrease the risk of osteoporosis, and prevent heart disease and type two diabetes. Keeping our bodies moving as we age prevents subtler signs of aging too, such as muscle atrophy and loss of balance and agility. His active lifestyle is what kept my grandfather healthy into his 90s, and restoring movement has brought him back to health after a setback.
I'm only 40-something, but already I can feel the difference in my body if I go without exercise for too long. My balance isn't what it used to be, and my lack of flexibility is more likely to lead to minor injuries than it used to. So while I hope that longevity runs in my family, I think that the real fountain of youth is movement. I want to be rollerblading in my 70s and kayaking in my 80s, and the best way to make sure I can is to keep myself moving now. Yes, life is busy, but the dog needs walks several times a day and the kids are always begging me to play with them. I like to make one daily dog walk a long one, and I say yes to football and tag as often as I can. Another key to my longevity plan is massage -- read more on how that keeps us feeling young next week.
We have a weekly walking group on Sunday mornings. If you need a boost to get you going, or just think it's more fun to exercise with friends, we hope you'll join us! We leave from Body of Work at 9:00am most Sundays, you're welcome any time!
Posted by Jennie, who is usually behind the scenes at Body of Work but occasionally sits at the front desk on Fridays.
This blog is a combined effort of practitioners to keep you informed.