Let me share a wonderful story with you. I worked for several years with two men; one was ninety four, and the other was ninety five. They each knew about the other through me, but they never met nor talked. One day, I was having a hard time motivating the ninety four year old, so I told him how well the ninety five year old was doing- it was worth a try. He didn’t much care at that moment.
However all of that changed when I told him, “You need to get up, because if another World War II vet can get up and exercise, so can you!” He then looked up and stared at me. He asked me what the other fellow did during the War. I told him he was a radio operator in France. He got excited; he too was a radio operator!
Long story short, both of them were radio operators; one in the Pacific on a B-24 Liberator, laying mines, and the other in occupied territory, decoding and delivering messages. What a small world- and that did it! My ninety four year old got up and exercised, and gave me a message for his fellow veteran, of which I delivered. And though they never actually spoke, and only received messages through me, they motivated each other until the day they passed.
I look back on the blessing of being able to work with these two men, and how they motivated me and am reminded of a simple fact: We are social creatures, and we do better with a buddy. And that’s my message today- find an exercise buddy and communicate with them about what you’re doing.
This can be through emails, though letters, phone calls, an actual person, through a journal being written for the grandchildren, etc. Somehow someway find someone you can exercise with and be responsible to and for.
Science has proven that our brains work better with others. We are more relaxed, more motivated, we sleep better, etc. Healthy relationships can keep us going in tough times, and this gets tough when we are caregiving for another, or there aren’t many others left. Yet anything we can do, to find someone to help us through, is to our advantage.
These two male vets, stubborn and thinking they were independent (and they were not and drove their caregivers crazy!), didn’t need to speak to each other, they just needed to know the other was alive and was working on staying alive. Please, please, please, find someone like that for yourself. Even if it’s not a traditional relationship; do whatever it takes.
Be that person that the kids on the school bus look at. Be that person who gets up even when you don’t want to and motivate others. Give that overloaded nurse a smile and be their strength. Be the best buddy you can be, and find an exercise buddy for yourself.
During one of my last visits to my ninety four year old patient, we were talking about World War II. I said, “If I haven’t ever told you, thank you for your service. I greatly enjoy the life I lead, which is in part because of you.” He just smiled, ever devious with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Did you just now figure that out Johnny boy?” Indeed, indeed I did!
~Because you’re stronger than you think, and you can do more than you know!~
John Paul Ouvrier, known as The Wizard of Youth, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. Please consult with your doctor or medical professional before beginning this or any exercise program or advice. The contents of this article do not constitute medical advice. Contact him at John@wizardofyouth.com, and bring him in to entertain your audiences! http://wizardofyouth.com. & http://fitness4charity.org