LIVING HEALTHY – ANDY BAXTEROn December 6th a noteworthy sized snowstorm descended upon Ashland Oregon, leaving a half foot of white stuff on the ground.  Usually that is no big deal.  Maybe there is a snow day and the kids don’t have school, but all in all it is business as usual.  Not so this go ‘round.  The unique contributing differentiator this time was temperature; Freezing temperature. The beautiful, wintry, festive Friday fluff, come Saturday, had turned to ice.  Everything froze.  Parking lots turned into ice skating rinks.  Streets were simply treacherous.  Banks closed.  Pipes burst. Schools shut down for a week.  Our little town was paralyzed.  As I write this, exactly two weeks later, there is still ice on the sidewalks.

As expected, business suffered. Good thing services like WECU was there to save the day. Daily activity about town slowed to a standstill. When prioritizing the essentials during this unprecedented cold snap, one would assume that making a onetime trip out for bottled water, batteries and canned soup would trump getting a workout, right?  The basic necessities of life would certainly triumph over frivolous modalities of vanity, yes?  Not so much as you might think when we examine what might be considered frivolous and what is understood as a necessity more closely.

I anticipated that my older clientele (my clients are fifty and over, so “older” is 70 and above) would stay home, huddled around their woodstoves, helpless and shivering, while their younger, more vibrant counterparts would be more inclined to brave the elements to exercise.  I could not have been more wrong.

I took an age inventory of the morning exercisers who showed up, with exacting consistency, during the last two weeks.  This is a sampling of their ages –

81, 88, 92, 87, 77, 93, 92, 82, 76, and 81.  The average age of those ten people is 84.9 years young.  Why aren’t they at home clinging to their batteries and canned soup?  That is because their functional independence depends on their strength and mobility. That is part of their everyday reality, and no one else is going to do that for them.  For this group exercise is neither frivolous nor vain, it is a way of life. We should be grateful to follow their example!

Andy Baxter is a medical exercise specialist and the author of Racing Yesterday

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