Monday, April 25, 2022

A body in motion

I recently finished up a second round of physical therapy on my shoulder. I referred to this issue in a number of previous posts, the issue being long head bicep tendon dislocation to be exact. 

I left the clinic after my last appointment with a sheet of exercises to be practiced daily—forever. These exercises add weight/resistance work to my program. 

I am aware that exercise is important for everyone, the older you get the more important it becomes. As you age, joints wear out and arthritis sets in. Bones thin and osteoporosis starts the slow dissolving of the skeleton. It is true that regular exercise reduces the impact of both of these inevitable deteriorations. 

It is as important to keep muscles strong and working, this reduces the risk of falls. Falls frequently are the death knell for the elderly, breaking hips which no longer have the capacity to heal is a big cause of death. Here is a scary statistic from

"One in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. Older adults have a five-to-eight times higher risk of dying within the first three months of a hip fracture compared to those without a hip fracture. This increased risk of death remains for almost ten years."

I suffer from both osteoporosis and arthritis in various joints, including my knees, so I am aware that exercise is important and for the last twenty-eight years, since moving to the US with only myself to consider and take care of, I have exercised, just not consistently. At first I had gym memberships and later I purchased a treadmill and weights machine and had my own mini gym at home.  When I met and married my husband, the home gym was replaced with a bedroom for my stepson and I started running in the early morning, outside. That didn't last long as the weather in Texas is not very supportive of outdoor activities, at least during the Summer, and the Spring—and often the Fall. Eventually I got another home gym setup and did use the treadmill for long periods, unfortunately these were punctuated by, also long, periods of excuses—the demands of work mainly. 

In the last two years however, I have hit the treadmill five mornings per week, for a full hour. Four months ago I added thirty minutes of Yoga to my schedule. Two months ago, twenty minutes of weights/resistance training was added—a result of the shoulder injury. You have to be retired to fit all of that into a day! And I don't even like working out.

I do have to admit that I am noticing the advantages to all of this. For one thing I have a wonderful feeling of achievement. Secondly, my muscles do feel stronger and joints are less painful. The biggest obvious benefit is that I find it a lot easier to get up off the floor. You might wonder why I would be on the floor in the first place—yoga is practiced on the floor, well on a mat, but the mat is on the floor. It is remarkably difficult to get to your feet from the floor, or for that matter, down to the floor, as you get older. After four months of yoga, this morning I sat on the floor, cross legged, without thinking about how to get there, and without remembering how I did it. In other words, it was not an effort. That makes it all worthwhile.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in older adults. Plus, serious complications from falls, like pressure sores, dehydration and pneumonia, are more likely if you aren't able to get into an upright position. Older adults who maintain muscle strength and flexibility through regular physical activity are less likely to fall. 

My advice is don't wait until you are old. A body in motion stays in motion according to Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein agrees with him. 

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