How old is too old?

How many times have you heard the phrase, "I can't do that, I'm too old!"

Never admit to that! The quality of life you have right now is the single most important factor in your life, regardless of your age. If you lose the ability of movement in your legs, does it matter whether you are 10 or 80? Of course not!

I teach all levels of ability and age, and the only thing that matters is whether you have the desire to go on living. Not whether you can remember your opposite leg.

I'll admit it, I preach exercise. Know why? Because each day you cease to move a part of your body is a downhill slide. You start restricting yourself to a short walk, then a walk only to the mailbox, then go only as far as the refrigerator and finally you find yourself restricted to the armchair in front of the television. Taken a bit further, you end up in a home where someone waits on you. And finally you are confined to a bed. Depressing, isn't it?

It doesn't have to happen. You can reverse the process if you still have your health. Even if you only move your feet to a little music to start with, and even if it takes you a year to get back outside for a walk, the climb back to a better quality of life today is the important thing to consider.

Diet for the older student is also important to the quality of life. You can't run a body without proper fuel. It directly affects the overall health benefits of any exercise program.

If you have had a heart problem, a stroke, or even a fracture, your body will recover itself given time and controlled activity. It takes time, sometimes lots of it, but it is possible to enhance your lifestyle tremendously with exercise.

Another important factor relating to fitness for the older student is the social interaction. How many of you sit at home and feel left out, depressed and unfit?

Maybe the most important two words in your vocabulary are, "I can't." Well, you can! Face it, no one cares why you can't, so don't use that excuse to cut our exercise and its social interaction.

So much of our lives center around laughter and a good time. How long has it been since you've had one? Exercise friends are important. They can laugh at you and with you and you can still get a workout. You can make friends in any social interaction, but especially when you sweat.

I have a theory that if you older students exercised consistently and laughed at least three times per week, you would increase your lifespan 10 years.

Think of what you could use those 10 years for, especially if you felt fit enough to enjoy them. You could travel, play golf, spend money. The possibilities are endless.

Jerry Vance is certified by the American Council on Exercise and teaches fitness at the Carson City Community Center and for the American Lung Association.


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