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Ester Marsh column: Exercise is the “fountain of youth”

I am very proud of our YMCA, where we have people of all ages exercising in one form or another. One dear friend once told me “if they can’t find something to do at the Y, they won’t find it anywhere.” With it almost being March, I am also excited to see all the people who are still dedicated to their health. Exercise does so many wonderful things for you, but I absolutely believe exercise is also the fountain of youth. No matter how old, most of us stay young at heart and mind. Last week, I participated in a Y trip to see the Phantom of the Opera in Charlotte. We took three small buses, stopped to eat on the way and enjoyed an amazing performance at the Blumenthal Theater. There were some young ones but most of the people where “older active adults,” and I had a blast! I am totally looking forward to another trip with our Y’s Wonders. Thank you Louise Klaver for organizing these trips!

Our older active adults at the YMCA inspire me. They continue to exercise, stay involved and keep moving. It’s a choice isn’t it? Too many times, people give in too quickly or give reason s why they can’t exercise. Come check out the YMCA — there are people of all ages and health levels exercising. You might not be able to do what you used to, but there is something you can do.

If exercising and staying on a healthy weight were easy, everyone would do it. But it isn’t — it’s a choice that you need to make.We (trainers and group exercise instructors) can assist you, but you still have to make the commitment. Whether it is MS (multiple sclerosis), a bad back, old age or arthritis, exercise will help you deal with it. It’s the mindset that will make you succeed or fail.

I have some folks that I call my poster “children” — the ones who are of age (70 plus) but continue to strive to grow old youthfully and independently. Exercise helps your brain function; it keeps your muscles and bones strong and gives you that sense of power and control over your body. A strong body, mind and spirit, positive thoughts, staying independent — you would think everyone would want that, right? Unfortunately, there are the ones who will find some reason why they can’t do it.

To feel good and reach the goals you set for yourself you have to work to get there. You need to set them for a suitable time frame and just “do it”!

You can be 30 years old and feel like 80 and you can be 90 years old and feel and move as a 40 year old. You are as old as you feel but most of us are in control of what age we want to feel. Many people are looking for the “fountain of youth” — I believe growing old independently, healthy and happy, strong and energetic through exercise is the fountain of youth.

Ester H Marsh Health Associate executive and H&F Director JF Hurley YMCA

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