The National Post (May 15, 2012) recently reported on scientific evidence showing that strength training with weights not only benefits the aging body but also the aging brain. There’s no doubt in my mind that exercise is the best form of investment for a rainy day as one gets older.
My father has always valued exercise as a form of protection. I remember questioning him when I was a kid about how he could possibly go for a workout prior to starting work each day. He owned and managed a restaurant business for over 55 years. It was a seven-day-a-week business and the hours were long. He had only one day off during the week. I can still remember his words: the restaurant business is very hard on the body, the dishes are heavy and there is a great deal of running around – greeting customers, clearing dishes, and picking up the phone.
My father felt that his regular visits to the downtown YMCA were critically important for maintaining his body and energy level for the type of physical work he did. His routine at the Y consisted of running the track for a least a mile, lifting weights for his upper and lower body, and swimming one-to-two miles in the pool. After his workout, he would to tell me: “I feel great. This membership is worth every cent and more”.
In addition to going to the Y, he also played tennis from spring to late fall outdoors. His tennis partner was a man in his early 60s. I remember my father taking a broom with him to the neighbourhood tennis courts to sweep off leaves or rain water. Now reflecting back, I truly admire the man for his love for exercise. And by default, all his time devoted to exercise may have actually saved his life.
Judy Chu is a Certified Kinesiologist at the Wagman Centre, Terraces of Baycrest.