Exercise, exercise, exercise (even using a can opener is better than nothing!) 

On a Thursday in mid-November, I visited the Rancho Senior Center’s (RSC) Fitness Center for the first time after joining the Fitness Center and receiving my orientation ($10 plus $55 for the annual Fitness Center fee — the bargain of the century).  On my visit, I ran into a wonderful and rather active woman, Anita Wilkins, 83, who was about to begin her fun-exercise interlude on an elliptical trainer (see photo).  “See my headphones,” she said, “’I usually listen to my book, while I exercise.”

Anita said that although she has been a resident of Irvine for about 14 years, she accidentally discovered the Fitness Center only about a year ago, when she was on her way to her Pilates class.

She gets her resistance and aerobic exercise at the Fitness Center three times per week and does yoga (for flexibility and strength) five days per week.

I took the photo of Anita on the elliptical trainer at 5pm, while she was the only exerciser in the room.  I’m told that the busy time for the Fitness Center is from 8am (when it opens) to 10am.  It’s usually empty between noon and 1pm, and lightly used during the afternoon.

Random Exercise

When I write about exercise, I’m including random exercise that anyone can do throughout the day.  For example, use stairs instead of the elevator.  Get rid of your electric can opener (unless you’re a restaurant) and use a manual can opener.  It’s good exercise to keep your finger, wrist and arm muscles strong.  When you put on your shoes, avoid sitting down.  Either stand on one leg and balance yourself (great for maintaining strength in your lower legs) or crouch down on the floor (great exercise when getting up).  You may wish to perform those feats next to a chair you can grab onto in case you begin to topple.  Watch what kids do.  They provide great examples of what we should all be doing throughout our lives.

How we behave physically as adults is largely cultural.  Avoiding activity is a giant invitation to chronic disease.  An outstanding scientific article, “Waging War on Physical Inactivity…” explains the necessity of muscle metabolism for proper functioning of all organs.  [See inset shaded, bordered box for link to the article.] Exercise is not just helpful, it’s necessary if you want to attain and maintain excellent health.  And, it’s never too late to begin.

Predisposition is NOT determinative

A refrain commonly heard is: “My father died of a heart attack when he was 65 years old, so I don’t expect to live past 65.”  That’s a myth!  Yes, without exercise that statement will likely be true, but, here’s the good news.  A recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine covering over 55,000 participants determined that even a minimal level of “good” lifestyle cut by 50% the actual risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD), regardless of the risk level of one’s genetic predisposition.  [See inset shaded, bordered box for link to the article.]

It is well known that predisposition alone does not guarantee a person will acquire a chronic disease.  An environmental “trigger” is also required.  And in so many chronic-disease cases, it is the lack of exercise that’s the trigger.

Exercise, exercise, exercise – however you achieve it – throughout the day, is key to a longer, healthier life.  Don’t slow down!  After a while, exercise truly becomes fun, but you’ve got to keep pushing yourself.  Being sedentary, although convenient, is a damaging addiction, and leads inevitably to the grossly inconvenient visits to the doctor’s office, if you’re lucky!

See the articles mentioned at: IrvineCommunityNews.org/Senior-Life-Resources

Write to me at:  harvey@IrvineCommunityNews.org

Harvey H. Liss

Harvey H. Liss

Harvey H. Liss, a former Irvine Planning Commissioner, holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics and is a California Licensed Civil Engineer. Dr. Liss is a longtime resident of Woodbridge, the iconic Irvine village he helped design in the 1970s. He now reports for ICNV on environmental issues.
Harvey H. Liss