Exercise is good for ‘what ails you’

Unfortunately, I was born lazy and I still find it very easy to spend hours sitting in my deluxe La-Z-Boy.
Although I was a bright, healthy baby, I didn’t crawl or walk until I was two years old. For those first two years, I just sat there contentedly playing with my toys.
There may have been a few reasons why I was so content.
Of course, the main reason was my natural disposition. But another reason may have been that I was the first child and the first grandchild on my mother’s side, so everyone took care of all my needs and gave me plenty of attention.
When my teen-aged Aunt Naomi and Uncle Lee visited in the evening, they would pick me up from a sound sleep and play with me. Then when they tired of me, they would put me back in the crib and I would resume sleeping.
In fact, I was so sedentary that my parents felt comfortable leaving me in the house alone while they did the chores.
Years later, my mother was horrified to remember that she left me in the house with the oil lamp burning while she helped in the barn.
The lamp was on a long embroidered runner on the library table. If I had chosen to walk, or even crawl, I could have reached the runner, pulled it down, knocked over the lamp, and burned down the house.
But fortunately, I never moved from the spot where she had placed me!
Oddly enough, two years after I began walking, I started first grade–only weeks after my fourth birthday. And ever since, I’ve been much more interested in books than exercise.
I hated gym, but I loved school!
As a middle-aged adult, I recognized how important exercise would be to my future health. So I began walking, usually with friends but sometimes by myself.
Since my stroke almost 11 years ago, I now participate in water aerobics. And I’m there every weekday morning unless I have a direct conflict.
Finally, I love exercise. Our group has so much fun as we work out and talk and laugh together!
All of us know that exercise is good for us. It strengthens heart and lungs. It may help prevent arthritis and some kinds of cancer. It can help manage high blood pressure and elevate mood.
Exercise also results in better sleep and helps manage weight.
As we get older, many of us have balance issues, which can result in serious falls, broken bones, and hospital stays.
A French study about the effects of exercise on balance found that exercise really does help. But you have to be diligent about it.
The researchers studied men and women age 70 and older and found that people who always have exercised—and continue do so—have much better balance.
But the more interesting finding is that those who always have exercised, but stopped exercising after retirement, had as poor balance as those who had never exercised.
While those who began exercising only after retirement were almost as good as the long-term exercisers.
So remember three things: exercise is good for “whatever ails you,” don’t give up, and it’s never too late to start.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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