Get up, get moving, get going this summer

I love the beginning of a new year, and one of the things I always do in advance of Jan. 1 is set up my calendar for the next 12 months.
That means transferring all the important upcoming dates and events, including the birthdays of people I’ve known over the decades.
Among those birthdays are the dates when my parents were born. My father Oct. 13, 1896, and my mother June 10, 1903.
When the new century dawned, however, I decided not to record yesterday’s birthdays and to focus instead on the people who are still here. That was fine until the month of June rolled around. And then calendar or no calendar, June 10 was still my mother’s birthday.
How well I remember those days she celebrated–especially the ones after she reached her 70s and early 80s.
After severe medicine-induced heart failure at about age 70, she had taken up walking as the road to recovery. And recover she did in a remarkable fashion. Past her 80th birthday, she was still walking two or three miles every morning.
But the highlight of her walking for the year was always her birthday. On that day, she and a friend walked seven miles to a neighbouring town and our favourite restaurant. My sister-in-law and I left our homes much later and arrived there by car in time for a birthday celebration of sweet rolls and coffee.
She carried out the ritual with considerable effort as late as her last birthday–her 82nd.
My mother didn’t live to be an old woman, and it’s hard to say how many months and years those miles of walking added to her total lifespan. But I suspect it was a considerable amount.
Whether or not it lengthened her life, however, is irrelevant. What it did was add quality to her life. She lived fully every day right to the end. Baking apple pies for the freezer and attending Fall Festival. Calling her sister long distance and sending cookies to her grandson. Going out to lunch with Christine.
And only in the last several days before her death did she write in her diary things like “very tired today.”
If there is indeed a proverbial fountain of youth, its name may be exercise. Medical experts are united in the importance of continuing to exercise as you age.
Regular exercise, says the Mayo Clinic, can help prevent coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, some cancers, osteoporosis, and arthritis. That’s an impressive list.
But still, according to Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of older adults are inactive.
Now that’s a horrifying statistic when it’s so easy to move. Walk 20 minutes a day three times a week. Garden. Mow the lawn. Join a water exercise class. Walk up and down the steps as often as possible. Do gentle exercises if you choose–yoga or tai chi.
If for some reason you can’t walk, you can usually still stretch. Put your arms over your head and bend from left to right. Do it to the rhythm of music. Get an exercise tape designed especially for people in wheel chairs.
What’s important, says the American Heart Association, is to keep up moderate exercise on a regular basis. Just keep moving. Or as one motivational calendar quote puts it, “Get up. Get moving. Get going”
If you follow that advice today, you’re destined to have a wonderful summer.

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