Sunday, July 9, 2023

Fitness Exercise at age 93

I had a number of session with a physical therapist to help me deal with balance. Neuropathy made balance an added challenge. I have given up wearing socks so the numbness is a little closer to the ground. This provides me with more assurance whether it is true or not. What I did take away from the physical therapy was the need to strengthen my leg muscles and core.

The Fitness Center I had attended for 7 years closed. The city of Bettendorf decided it was too expensive even though a sizable number of elderly retired attended as well as a middle age group doing pickle ball. We went to a public hearing. But that was a farce. You could tell the decision had been made. The YMCA bought the building for a gymnastics program. It took me some time to decide to go the the big Y in Bettendorf.   The building is overwhelming. I did get a membership but I didn't use any of their equipment.  I decided to go the the new Y in Davenport which was funded in part by the Bechtel Trust. The new Y is a beauty. I knew the Bechtel. Marie Bechtel had been a Befriender at the hospital.

The membership at the Y, paid by health insurance, allowed me two free sessions with the fitness trainer. The first 1/2 hour was a review of my health. The second was an introduction to the resistance machines he recommended. He directed me to the machines he said would be best. We started with three that worked on my leg muscles. He said you start with the long muscles. Then four for my mid section, shoulders, and chest. Last were the two machines were for triceps and biceps .  What I discovered when I starting doing the exercises twice a week on my own. I was forget the breathing in and out part. I have made the correction. I am starting to experience an energizing at the end of the exercise time. That is what I was hoping for.

I will meet with him again in a month to review and get further instructions.

My schedule is adding a three day week,Monday, Wednesday,  and Friday. I am working on a time of day. The place is busy with younger people by and large. A very diverse group. After 10 AM and after 3 PM seem to be times when fewer people are present. Many exercise in pairs or if alone they seem to need the iPhone for a longer break. That means waiting for the next machine at time. Amazing how many people seem to be addicted to the iPhone.

Since I have only been at the Fitness Center for a couple months I have much more to learn and discover in terms of benefits. What I can say, I strongly recommend the activity for myself. While gardening provides movement and enjoyment my muscles do not get the workout they seem to need.

I sometimes wonder about growing up on a farm where there was a lot of physical labor even for a boy, carrying buckets of feed, shelling corn with a corn sheller, etc., establishes that need and frequency at an early age. I am talking about the 1930's and 40's. Then athletics in high school, wrestling and track. Not much physical activity during college. Although I did get a Red Cross Life Saving certificate and served as a life guard for church camps. Seminary did have flag foot ball and an a required afternoon for a work detail. That did turn out to be fairly heavy after the hurricane went through our campus with 40 acres of timber.

After seminary and out in a parish I went to the Y and took up hand ball. That put me in shape. When I came to Davenport Paul Mendy and I became the doubles champions one year. At age 52 in a tournament I strained my sternum. I decided to hag up the gloves and take to bike riding. 

I could take long rides out into the country in the evening after work at the hospital.

After retiring as a hospital chaplain and moving to a lake home there was a great five mile ride to another town on a back road. The total ride made 10 miles with breakfast in between. My wife and I were going to the Fitness center in DeWitt. She went to a water exercise group and then beach ball water pollo. They seemed to do a lot of laughing as I walked around the track.

After her death I kept the fitness routine. Now remarried, my retired Army Nurse, is also into exercise as part of retirement. Mutual support is an added advantage.

More to learn and experience. The body is a teacher as well. Since I have periodic bladder scopes that have led to five surgeries to remove tumors I know how weak you can feel after a surgery. The physical therapy provided some specifics but the fitness center has helped to restore strength as muscle loss increases with age.

Three times a week isn't working out. I will stay with two times. 

I am on a continuing journey, stay in touch.

Marlin Whitmer, BCC, ret.

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