I’ve been active most of my life either taking long walks to get away from my overcrowded home. Our door was always open to family members and friends; hence, our small Harlem apartment was many times filled with relatives and friends. Taking long walks from 145th Street to 125th Street, through Central Park and down to 59th Street was part of my young years.
When I moved out to L.A. I continued to walk, swim at the local pool, and practice yoga with Lilias who had a show on TV. At that time, exercise wasn’t a big thing as it is today. I never thought of my activity as an exercise regimen. These were just some things I enjoyed doing. I didn’t get into a formal exercise program until I joined the gym some years later. I began going to an aerobics class and worked out on the weight machines. This was followed by a step aerobics class until my knees gave out. No matter how hard I worked out, I could never keep up with others in those classes. Refusing to punish my body any further, I dropped out and did my own thing when I felt like it. Though I saw no dramatic changes in my weight or my physique, I did notice that my stamina increased, I became more flexible, and my strength improved. Over the years, while I don’t participate in any of the high energy exercises enjoyed by many young people, I am like the turtle, slow and steady, knowing that it is a lifetime endeavor.
Studies show that regular exercise improves overall health,
- improves stamina
- boosts the immune system, making your body more resistant to disease and infection
- helps prevent obesity
- reduces the risk of heart disease
- acts as a natural tranquilizer to help relieve stress, anxiety and depression
- lubricates joints, thus easing aches and pains associated with arthritis
- helps build strong, denser bones and decreases the risk of crippling osteoporosis
- staves off, or improves many of the common disorders typically associated with aging
- promotes an active life.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “exercise” as activity that requires physical or mental exertion, especially performed to develop or maintain fitness. There are many ways to include physical activity into your everyday routine. The best kiind of physical activity is one where you are doing something you enjoy. I know a lady in her seventies who dances around her house daily to music she enjoys. And another who spends her day in her garden. And still another in her eighties who practices yoga and swims. I have a friend who at 102 still bowls. Whichever activity you choose to do, it should be part of your life.
It’s never too late to begin as long as you have a doctor’s approval especially if you have been inactive for a long time. Remember, a little exercise goes a long way.