Regular exercise is beneficial, even for senior citizens

Q: I am finding that some things are difficult to take as I get older. The young lady who is covering for my doctor while he is on holidays is probably younger than most of my grandchildren. I am not sure that I can take her seriously.

She thinks that I do not exercise enough. The truth is that I do not exercise at all, so she is probably right, but to be honest, I cannot see the point in it. I am pushing 70, and that in my books is old, and probably too old to start running around a gym somewhere to pretend that I am younger than I am.

However, this young doctor is a very determined young lady. She has sent me home with a list of exercises to do and she asked me to come back next week to let her know how I am doing. I will co-operate with her, even though I don’t want to do so, but all of this is going to be a lot easier if I can figure out some reason for going through with all of these exercises. What do you think? Is there any point for a person my age to be doing all of this stuff?

A: I am really glad that you have had an opportunity to run into this young lady. I wish that more physicians were pushing their patients the same direction that she is encouraging you to follow.

From the articles that I read and study, it would seem that not only is exercise good for everyone, it can also start for anyone at any age. It will reap all kinds of benefits for those who are willing to take the time to move around a bit more than they might otherwise. The articles are consistent — you can never be too old to start looking after yourself properly.

I do not know much about who you are as a person, so I cannot presume to know what benefits you might expect to pick up by exercising more than usual, but we have some general plusses that help almost everyone who gets involved in physical workouts.

The first one is personal depression. People who start working out find themselves sleeping and eating better than they previously did. The result of all of that, with more rest and healthier nutrition complementing their physical activities, is that they get depressed less often. When they do have moments when they are discouraged, the clouds pass more quickly. They can get back involved into their daily activities.

The other plus is memory. You might not remember things as much as you once did as you age, but you will recall less if you don’t exercise and instead commit yourself to the obesity of lethargy.

Then there is dementia. As you most likely know, we cannot cure Alzheimer’s disease, or any other type of dementia. They tend to follow downward spirals. However, some studies are finding that even if we cannot stop the process of dementia, we can at least slow it down. Dementia is a slower moving process for those who exercise than it is for those who don’t.

Finally, let’s talk about falling. Falling is a big booby trap for many of our elderly friends. More of us fall when we get older, and healing for those bones and muscles that have been stretched or broken from a fall takes a lot longer than it did one time in your life, long ago.

People who exercise fall less than do those who don’t. They have better balance, more strength and are just a little bit quicker to jump back into their balancing acts. They fall less and they hurt less and if somehow they have done some damage to themselves, they recover more quickly.

So, let’s celebrate your new physician and hope that she made some notes in your patient chart for your regular doctor to follow once he has returned from his holidays. I would hate to see you let go of your drift into an exercise regime.

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