Last Friday morning, Rich, the inspirational Spinning instructor at my gym, started class with this quote:
"Fitness is just a tool folks. It gives you options. It gives you the option of standing at the top of the Grand Canyon, and deciding to hike down. Without fitness, you're always stuck at the top looking down"
Given the choice, who wouldn't want to hike down the Grand Canyon? His quote made me think of all the options one has with fitness. The option of getting down on the floor to play with young children; the option of carrying your own grocery bags out of the store, instead of waiting in the parcel-pickup line; the option of being able to run through the airport to make your flight; the option of having the energy to get through the day; the option to travel to out-of-the-way places; the option of dancing at your grandchildren's weddings; the option of being able to load a parent's wheelchair in and out of the car and push them wherever they need to go; and the option of having the strength to recover from an illness or surgery.
On our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband & I hiked from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, & one day we had a sheer cliff to scramble up. It was so difficult, and I stopped quite a few times along the way. But we saw another couple who looked well into their 70's who were doing the same scramble. I was in awe of their good fortune to have that sort of fitness in their 70's.
Every day that I'm at the gym I have the chance to shmooze with wonderfully fit ladies in their late sixties, seventies and eighties. They're still swimming, lifting weights, walking on the treadmills, doing t'ai chi, yoga, and taking aerobic classes. They are truly my models of how to grow old in style. They're upbeat, energized, interesting & interested. They're still hit with the same illnesses, troubles and curve balls life throws everyone, but they're still coming to the gym, in spite of it all.
Fitness is definitely their tool. And it has certainly given them options.
Here's what the American Heart Association had to say in July 2007 about the value of exercise in improving quality of life.
Prescribed and supervised resistance training (RT) enhances muscular strength and endurance, functional capacity and independence, and quality of life while reducing disability in persons with and without cardiovascular disease.
In 2001 a special issue dedicated to the health of seniors was published in The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and Medical Sciences and as this editorial states:
No single segment of our society can benefit more from regularly performed exercise and improved diet than elderly adults. These important articles provide a link between diet and exercise and quality-of-life issues, as outlined in the Healthy People 2010 report.