Independence Creates Identity

By Bonza Trainer Katie Normile

It is never too late to create fitness goals. Age is always just a number; it’s how you feel that counts. As you age, exercise still needs to be an important part of your daily life. Exercise is especially important to maintain the range of motion in your joints, increase blood flow to important organs, and to keep bones and muscles strong. Mental and physical capabilities can decrease significantly as we grow older and the risk for fatal falls increases. Exercise is proven to maintain those functions and decrease the risk for injury.

If you know someone who has lost the ability to perform their activities of daily living you have seen how devastating it is to them not to be able to carry out the simple tasks. Keeping older adults active will keep their independence which will mean they keep their identity. They don’t need to exercise the same way they used to in their younger years but things as simple as standing up out of a chair multiple times will allow them to get up on their own. Taking the stairs or walking 10-15 minutes a day are huge measures to incorporate into their daily routine. Older adults can still develop new muscles and learn new tasks. Exercise can keep them moving and doing the activities they love doing on a daily basis!

age - numberGene, an 88 year old rockstar has been an inspiration to me. She has had a broken femur, usually a death sentence for anyone that age, severe macular degeneration, chronic heart failure, and a recent broken arm. Most people her age would have given up because her sense of identity was taken from her with these injuries and the curve balls life has thrown at her. She could no longer toilet herself, walk herself to meals, or get dressed alone. She relied on the help and compassion of those people around her.

She decided to turn to exercise after her PT/OT discharged her and it has put the quality back into her life. She is now walking alone with a 4 wheel walker, dressing herself (minus that tricky button on the pants), and using the toilet alone. Every day I watch her struggle to improve herself and push herself to her 88-year old limits. When she tires out after 40 yards of walking the next day she makes sure it is 50 yards.

Today she walked .25 miles outside. This was one of her biggest goals: she wanted to be able to enjoy the sunshine and walk the “circle” around her complex. On her 88th birthday she accomplished this goal! Her determination to not wilt away and feel sorry for the unfortunate cards life has given her has gotten her to reach this amazing goal!

It is never too late to try something new or to have goals. Exercise is a crucial component at every age. Staying active doesn’t have an age limit. Who knows what this 88th year will hold for Gene but while she is still around she is making the best of each day and the best of herself in order to remain independent and to keep her identity.

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