Age is not an excuse!

Last week-end I visited my Mom in La Grange, IL. We celebrated Mom’s 87th birthday.

I am so proud of her!

She lives in a retirement center on her own, in her own two-bedroom cottage. She is in great shape. She unofficially heads up a crew of mobile residents at the main building who helps transport wheelchair-bound residents to various activities. She also helps out with the weekly program to the resident Alzheimer’s patients, teaching them patiently, for example, about plant cuttings that she has prepared for them to grow in their own little pots.

Mom has a daily and weekly activity and social routine that I encourage her to keep even when I visit. She has a lesson twice weekly in the therapeutic pool with an instructor and does activities in the pool on her own before her lesson. She participates daily in two back-to-back exercise classes along with 10-20 other residents. She leads the group on Saturday, so that the group only takes one day a week off! She walks on a regular basis.

Mom can still drive, so she participates in weekly senior activities at her church as well as in the community. She attends church services and a weekly evening Bible study (one with homework!) as well. She always has a couple of projects going on: collecting calendars, Christmas cards and stamps for prisoners; collecting used Bibles and Christian literature for an overseas ministry…you get the idea!

When I visited this last time, I talked to a couple of women in the exercise class, asking them why they were so committed to attending. They both answered that when they are regular they get tremendous benefits- less stiffness in their joints, overall feeling better- and they can feel it when they miss class. Excellent!

The large exercise area is next to a room with a number of machines, including a bicycle, treadmill, and other fitness equipment. As I was finishing on the treadmill, a couple came in (Mom’s age), George using a rolling walker, his wife walking on her own. George slipped out from behind his walker, personalized the settings, and got moving on the bicycle. His wife waited for me to finish, and then she got started with her workout.

This kind of activity happens daily. I congratulate each one for taking personal responsibility for his health.  The physical benefit is obvious.

With this group of seniors, there are a number of social and emotional benefits as well. The residents in the classes and activities look out for each other, notice when someone is not around for a couple of days, and provide that extra safety net of friends that is so important for everyone.

You know, the physical, social and emotional benefits of exercise don’t just happen for seniors!

Are you committed to moving purposefully each day? Don’t wait until a doctor says you must. Take responsibility now. Think about Ruth and her friends in La Grange. Remember, age is not an excuse to not participate!

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