Carolyn Van Pattern
Home Life provides helpful tips to the membership during our regular meetings.
Hello Ladies! Last newsletter, I stressed the importance of keeping ourselves hydrated. It helps with so many different aspects of our physical wellbeing. This issue I want to talk about the importance of staying active.
I have recently started getting back into exercise; in fact, I even hired a trainer. There is woman at my gym that is in her early 70’s (she won’t tell me her actual age!). She meets with a trainer 1-2 times a week and has lost 80 pounds! She is truly an inspiration. She says she started this journey because she was tired of being tired all the time AND she was starting to have more and more health concerns because of her weight and inactivity. I am in my early 50’s and I have struggled with my weight most of my life, but activity was always a part of my every day routine until I injured my back in 2009 and had to have back surgery. Getting back into activity after the surgery was not easy. The mindset was there (I didn’t want to go back to pain and more injuries) but my body just wasn’t as strong as it once was. The pain of the injury and not being able to do what I once could also took its mental toll.
After surgery and with the blessing of my doctor, I started with just walking on the treadmill for a half an hour at a slow pace with no incline. I did that every day for 4 weeks until I could start physical therapy at 6 weeks after the surgery. Progress was slow when I started physical therapy. It gradually became easier and they added things to the routine to start rebuilding the large muscle groups and add balance (I still have nerve damage down the outside of my right leg to my little toe). The therapist also included stretching to keep everything limber and prevent stiffness.
Little by little I improved in mobility, strength and balance. I continue to try in incorporate exercise into my daily routine– walking two miles with my husband, taking bike rides, gardening, going to the gym and meeting with a trainer. Exercising gives me greater focus for work, stamina to go out and enjoy the great outdoors, and a general feeling of wellbeing!
Here are some key reasons we all should to continue to get active AND stay active:
- Exercise can be a Social Activity: Whether you start a group to walk the mall in the winter time or ask a friend to join you at the gym or a water aerobics class, you get the chance to be social with you exercise pals. It also provides the opportunity to be accountable and have support to stay motivated.
- Exercise can improve your mood: Exercising can help reduce the feelings of depression and general lethargy as it releases mood-boosting endorphins. Exercise is also thought to redirect negative thoughts, and again if done in a group setting, (see point 1!) provides a great deal of support.
- Exercise Improves Strength and Mobility: Keeping your body strong also helps keep your bones strong. As you spend more time “sitting around,” your muscles can atrophy, you can start having a more difficult time breathing and walking, have unsteady balance, have poor blood flow and other common physical problems. As few as 250 steps each hour during the day can help with all these ailments and so much more!
- Exercise increases mental capacity: Mental decline has been shown to slow in older individuals who are physically active. When you are physically active, you increase the blood flow to all areas of your body – including the brain. This, in turn, improves cognitive function.
- Exercise improves healing: Statistics show that active adults heal up to 25% faster than those who do not exercise. Starting an exercise program now, before you have an injury, may allow you to benefit from improved healing and faster recovery from an injury or surgery.
If anyone in the group has a Fitbit and would like to be friends to help each other stay accountable – just let me know – I would love to be part of an active solution!