Exercise

Esther Smith I am so happy today to be telling you about one of my favorite activities: exercise. So many people have negative ideas about exercise, as I did before I discovered a few secrets. Just the word brings up visions of sweat-soaked t-shirts and sore, aching muscles. If you don't like to exercise, I hope I can change your mind as you read on.

I didn't always exercise on a consistent basis. I was, like you, involved in life with a capital "L." I was working, raising kids, being a helpmate to my husband as he built a successful business, and volunteering for my church and community. Who had time to exercise? And, while some of these responsibilities have changed over the years, my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are proud that I am still very busy with my capital "L" life. Again, who has time to exercise? Not me, no way.

However, I do have a desire to be active for all of my days. And, I had to admit that all the medical evidence was beginning to pile up and becoming difficult to ignore. I started to wonder if my capital "L" was for laziness and not life. Of course, you have heard it, too. You can't turn on the television or pick up the newspaper without being told that a consistent fitness program will help you have more energy and endurance to do the things you love (like keeping up with those grandchildren and giving back to your church and community). You will be stronger and straighter (that's posture) and you will have improved balance and attitude. So, what's a girl to do? Well, you could do what I did: stand in front of a mirror in your birthday suit. Oh my, that got me moving!

So, I decided to find things I absolutely loved to do. The fact that some people might call it "exercise" is simply a coincidence. So that's your first step to staying fit: find something you love to do and friends who will join you. For me, it's Pilates Class, a Fit Ball Class, and water aerobics with four friends. We meet at my house two times a week for an hour. We laugh, exchange stories, enjoy one another's company, and oh yes, we "exercise" with the help of our fitness trainer. We like working with an exercise specialist because she helps us prevent injury, educates us, and, when she can get a word in edgewise, she leads us in a variety of enjoyable activities.

Next, be consistent. Don't worry about finding 30, 45, or 60 minutes a day. You can break it into smaller 10-minute activities through out each day—it all adds up. And, finally, don't think you have to exhaust yourself. It is not necessary. Things you do in your daily life may well qualify as "exercise." Do you garden, walk the dog, chase the grandchildren, go dancing, hike at the lake, clean house, walk up stairs, walk at the mall? Believe it or not, that's exercise.

So now you know my secrets: enjoy what you do, do it with friends, and be consistent. But you knew all that, right? It's not hard. I just had to make up my mind to allow my capital "L" to stand for Life and not Laziness. My biggest challenge is consistency but the payoff is the best—I just look in the mirror.

And, by the way, I want to emphasize how important it is to find friends to exercise with you—especially if you are challenged by vision loss. Classes are a great way to go. But, if you are not into classes, find a buddy to go for a walk with you, a dance partner or a personal trainer (some Ys have personal trainers). As I told you before, the social benefits I get from my "Pilates Pals" and our trainer are as important as the physical ones.

There are many resources on the AFB Senior Site. Here is the link for more information on Exercise.

Take a moment to check it out. It could be a life-changing experience!

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

Esther

Contact Me

I'd love to hear from you! If you have questions or comments for me, please e-mail esthersinsights@afb.net and put Esther's Insights in the subject line. I have lots of ideas for this column, but would love to answer reader questions here as well.

More about Esther Smith

Mrs. Smith has been involved in numerous volunteer activities in Dallas over the years, and is currently a member of the American Foundation for the Blind Center on Vision Loss Board and heads up the Center's docent program. She was married for 47 years to Don Paul Smith, a noted inventor. Mrs. Smith is a graduate of Lindenwood College for Women in St. Charles, Missouri, and was a 2006 recipient of an honorary degree from the University of North Texas. In addition, she was head of the circulation department at the Fondren Library at Southern Methodist University for 11 years. Mrs. Smith has three daughters and seven grandchildren. For more about her experiences with macular degeneration, look for the AFB Press book, Out of the Corner of My Eye, in which she shares more of her insights, and view the video Esther and Gwen: A Mother and Daughter Story.


Listen to Esther Discussing Out of the Corner of My Eye

Transcript of Esther Discussing Out of the Corner of My Eye

Esther Smith: I have had the opportunity of reviewing several times the book entitled Out of the Corner of My Eye, and feel it is a wonderful learning tool for anyone who has that condition. The book was authored by Ms. Ringgold, who has had macular degeneration for some 10 years. It's obvious that she's a knowledgeable, educated woman who has chronilized her condition of macular degeneration from being a very slight case to an advanced case. I would certainly recommend either reading or listening to this book to anyone who has the condition of macular degeneration, not only to help you cope with your condition but also for your family to understand how you are coping and how they can help you.

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