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  • Writer's pictureHanky

Exercising Geriatric(k)s

The old Romans established a great saying advicing their citizens to keep a “healthy mind in a healthy body” (mens sana in corpore sano). After some 2,000 years, that advice has lost nothing of its value - in fact, in our modern times even more emphasis seems to be placed on physical fitness. Quite often people become so fanatic about their physical discipline that the “mens sana” (sane mind) turns into “mens rea” (guilty conscience), causing all kinds of anxieties about one’s physical exercise results (or lack thereof). We - the “researchers” at the Spuzzum Institute of Technology - consider that insane, as we firmly believe that a healthy mind can only be achieved when it is free of fear and filled with a good sense of humour - for a merry heart is like a very good medicine.

We are faced with the fact that our society is turning grayer (and balder) all the time, as almost all of the baby boomer generation have now passed 60 years of age. Many of them are in their seventies, rapidly approaching that notable 77 mark, which is Canada’s life expectancy. And here is another fact: most of our senior citizens are kept on drugs, some over-the-counter types, but mostly prescribed by our health care system following diagnosis from laboratory tests. Treating the lab results helps keep up the outward appearances of physical health, but often neglects a person’s spiritual well-being (i.e. mens sana). For that reason the Spuzzum Institute is developing a series of Geriatric exercises best suited for the elderly, as long as they can be done naturally and gladden the heart. Because we believe a joyful spirit is more important than a beautiful body.

As a senior citizen, you should be aware of your aging body and accept - with a

smile, if possible - its limitations. Don’t try to take on sporting activities you know nothing about. For instance, if you have done so never before, do not go tossing the caber - serious injury may result, and you may well end up tossing your cookies! Better to avoid taking part in any tossing and throwing competition - throwing an object like a disc or a javelin or a hammer could cause harm not only to oneself, but also to other contestants, officials or bystanders. And don’t be tempted to emulate the ancient Greek athletes, who would perform at the original olympics in the buff (see photo). We can not imagine - and don’t want to - seeing a naked eighty-year-old discobulus at work. It would not be very aesthetic - even called gross - and could cause severe injury - why, he might even end up with a slipped disc! Remember to never throw caution into the wind, for that could easily lead to throwing fuel on the fire and sh... in the fan. If you have to do any throwing at all, we suggest you stick to the simple stuff, like throwing up........ an opportunity and throwing down ....... the gauntlet (as long as you don’t have to pick it up). Finally remember that tossing a pancake and tossing your hair are both enjoyable exercises, but only when they are NOT intertwined.

When it comes to jumping, seniors should refrain from participating in such

olympic elements as the High Jump, the Long Jump and especially the Pole Vault. And when your old knees can no longer bear the strain of doing low-level jumping jacks, you may want to consider limiting your exercises to jumping-to-conclusions. Yes, it does burn fewer calories, but might be fun, though sometimes boring. For something more exciting, you might try jumping on the bandwagon, but make sure it is for a noble, deserving cause - joining to ride with a jumped-up politician often leads to disillusionment that takes away your joy - don’t let that happen!

Running and/or jogging are the exercises most practiced in one form or another, mostly by young people especially the short distance sprints. Long distance runs (i.e. 5 km to marathon) can be undertaken by older people only if they have been doing it since childhood - if you first try it when you are already past middle age, the strain and pain to those sleepy muscles can be excruciating.

And even when you are a good cyclist and experienced long distance runner, but can not swim, triathlons are not your thing. Elderly folks may well find themselves running around in circles, like when you feel compelled to leave the yard, go into the house upstairs and when you get there can’t remember what you came there for. Don’t worry about loosing your mind - just remind yourself that your inner nature has automatically made your body go through a stair climbing exercise - isn’t that amazing?! And as you advance into your golden years you can keep alzheimer’s at bay as long as you remember to keep jogging your memory - that could become a habit.

Twisting and turning are usually part of the exercises better known collectively as aerobics, which includes all kind of activities that are supposed to be feather-light making you feel like floating in air. However, as seniors we should always remain aware that our bodies are neither aeronautical nor aerodynamical - they’re not even supple enough to gain minimal aerobic success. For this one needs a good dose of patience while building up the level at which to tolerate one’s own limitations. Turning the other cheek and bending over backwards are the kind of helpful exercises to practice tolerance - as long as you remember that the number of calories burned can never be more than inversely proportional to the number of concessions balanced in a tit-for-tat equation. If you understand that, your IQ must be way higher than ours.

To recap - the four most important exercises throughout life are:

(1) BREATHING - considered the most essential - without it all other exercises are futile;

(2) WAKING UP - ready to tackle ever new day with optimism, and deal with such unwanted visitors as Art Ritus and Charlie Horse. If you’re still smiling when you get rid of them,

half the battle is won;

(3) SPENDING - a penny ....... or a pound - keeping your bowels open

(without having to run!) is vital for your internal health. It is constitutionally

correct, and enables you to proudly proclaim you have always been

(4) HOLDING UP your end!!

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