Sam Bauman: Exercise makes the body go round and round
November 13, 2017
It wasn't until my mid-50s that I noticed my skiing wasn't as neat and precise, my turns not evenly rounded. I thought maybe old age creeping in, but then I noticed all the comments flowing about exercise as being the keystone to being healthy.
I had thought exercise was something one did in high school gym class, with the teacher counting off moves.
So I decided to adopt a regular exercise routine, picking up moves from therapists, pro gym teachers and the like. I slowly assembled the moves into an easy-remembered sequence. I didn't want to go to a gym. So I put together my own routine, calling it the "pajama-game routine," something I could begin with waking at 7 a.m. and going to it, my "pajama routine," from bed to reps.
And I discovered that when I did my "PJ routine" the whole day went better — I was more alert, more comfortable in doing things. Exercise seems to have many hidden virtues.
So I'm convinced of the value of exercise. Not just skiing and walking, but an organized routine. I doubt if any pro gym instructor would approve of my routine, but it works for me and makes me feel better all day long, I think.
Right now my routine is logical — it goes from one move to another in an easy-to-remember sequence, not that I don't get confused at times.
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And I am always ready to adopt a new move if it makes sense overall. Like right now I'm toying with tai chi, an exercise system that seems right for my aging body. I've watched it on the Internet and a friend passed along a video of a local man using it.
But I want to team up with a local instructor, probably at the senior center. The cost is moderate and the system seems to be smooth and not too stressful.
Then there are the fitness trackers, devices that you strap to your wrist. It counts your steps (and some add heartbeat), but Consumer Reports "On Health" ran this item:
"Will a fitness tracker help me to get more exercise?"
"Maybe. Snapping on a trendy tracker on your wrist that monitors your steps taken and calories burned may just motivate you to be more physically active. There's not a lot of research yet, but in a recent study of 51 older, fairly sedentary women, those who were given trackers reported exercising for an additional 38 minutes per week. But a 2014 survey found that one in three people who buy trackers stop using them after six months.
"And it's unclear whether all the trackers were equally accurate. So before you shell out $50 to $250 for one, consider downloading a fitness-tracking app to see whether it boosts your activity level. Research conducted last year suggests that apps may be as accurate as wearable trackers."
I considered buying a tracker, but it seemed unneeded considering my PJ Routine.
And in "Health Wire" of Consumer Reports there was a short but meaningful item under the headline "Stronger Legs, Sharper mind." The item read:
"Here's another reason to take the stairs: Your brain may stay fit. In a 10-year study of 324 female twins, researchers found that those with the strongest legs at the start had the smallest cognitive changes (measured by memory and reactions time) and the loss of brain volume later on.
"Exercise my reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system and some evidence suggests it may encourage the growth of new brain cells and connections."
OK, so exercise, something we did naturally as cavemen and women, is critical to a healthy and presumably happy life. Hup, 1-2-3-4!
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.