Commentary by Tom Weesner
The sweet smell of freshly cut grass and spring flowers bring fond memories of spending time with my grandparents. One, in particular, stands out in my mind. As a baseball player, I would ask my grandpas to play catch. One would and the other wouldn’t, stating he was too old. For two men who were the same age, why did one feel so differently than the other?
My grandfather who wouldn’t play catch walked all the time, including to and from work every day, up and down big hills (if you’ve been to Wabash, you know what I am talking about). He walked for heart health, but strength and flexibility were limited, so he didn’t feel comfortable playing catch. My other grandfather was more active and had a job that built strength and required balance and flexibility.
My grandmothers, on the other hand, were the opposite of their spouses. One was active and strong, the other not so much. I remember vividly spending hours in my strong grandma’s backyard gardening, picking berries and picking up apples at the end of the summer. My grandma never ran out of energy and was able to pick up and carry the bushel basket of fallen apples swarming with bees. So, what do I take away from these memories?
Spending time with your grandchildren requires not only stamina, but strength, flexibility and balance. Your grandkids are quite aware of your ability to play with them, and like me, they are likely to retell stories 40 years later. I’m sure you are excited to be back on the walking paths, listening to the birds sing while your dog explores the fresh scents, and good for you! But, the ability to remain active requires more than just walking. Dave Stewart, director of personal training at Motion 4 Life Fitness, hears many stories of how comprehensive exercise programs have impacted grandparents’ lives.
“I have one member who said he is doing more gardening than ever, another who doesn’t get tired after an evening with the grandkids, and a couple who traveled to Mackinac Island and were both joyfully able to bike around the entire island,” Stewart said. “Our members are able to be more active outside because they are spending time inside the gym during the spring and summer working on cardio, flexibility, strength and balance. All four of these areas are critically important for active aging.”
Even the American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training and exercises for agility and balance at least two to three times per week in addition to walking outdoors. So, in addition to your walking, find a local fitness facility that focuses on age-appropriate exercise and get started today! Your grandchildren will remember these good times with you.
Weesner is the president of Motion 4 Life Fitness.