Exercising isn't just for the 'young' anymore Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Apr. 19, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Grand Mom column by Audrey Mettel Fixmer

“If I knew then what I know now” is a common opener for us senior citizens.

It is especially appropriate for things involving health care . . . the benefits of regular exercise, for example.

Granted, our Mamas got lots of exercise hanging out laundry, the Papas didn’t have power lawn mowers, and the kids didn’t get rides to school. Everybody walked everywhere.

Playtex or Jack LaLanne?

I just wish I had heard about exercise during my childbearing years in the late 40s and early 50s.

I expected to get back into shape by pulling on a Playtex rubber girdle. (Oh, the memory of sweating through that one!)

Jack LaLanne was the first exercise guru that I heard of, and frankly, I thought he looked pretty silly with those oversized muscles and those skin-tight leotards.

Even though I couldn’t identify with this body-builder, he did get through to me about nutrition and I was determined to feed my family a healthy diet.

Making workouts fun

Then Jane Fonda burst on the scene with her television show.

Now her I could relate to. She worked every muscle in her body and her appearance was proof enough that it succeeded.

Her message to “work those muscles until they burn” came through to me. I bought a couple of her videos and worked out in my living room sporadically, but soon realized that working alone was not much fun.

Then I found a dance aerobics class that was more fun and appealed to my social nature. I faithfully attended that for several years. I could go there at 6:30 a.m. and still have time to shower and be at school to begin my teaching day at 8. When the arthritis in my knees got too bad, I switched to water aerobics.

In the 18 years since I had both knees replaced I never had another pain in my knees, but I have only exercised sporadically.

Recently, though, I got into a walking program at our local hospital. Along with two of my neighbors, we walk three times a week for nearly an hour, taking time off to sit whenever we are tired.

We have the security of being in a caring environment and meeting other local like-minded folks, and we take advantage of that by stopping to chat occasionally.

Gotta ‘use it or lose it’

My friend and fellow parishioner, John McKenzie, is my latest inspiration. He just finished competing in the annual Birkebeiner race (six miles on skis) for the 25th year. Over 4,000 competed, and John came in “First in the Over 80” category. (Okay, he was the only one in his category.)

How does he stay in shape? In good weather he does a six-mile course on roller skis and rides a bike to Mass on weekdays (a 12-mile round trip). Did I mention that John had both knees replaced four years ago?

With all of the knowledge we have today about the needs of our bodies, and all of the health clubs, home equipment, and timesaving devices, it seems we have run out of excuses. We’ve gotta move. We use it or lose it.

With all of today’s knowledge, equipment, and opportunities, I guess we’ve run out of excuses.

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