It was early on Sunday morning, 7AM or so. Having just finished my 45-minute, at-home, exercise routine, I was perusing The New York Times with my second cup of coffee.
In the Review section was an essay about the contributor's experience with his corner smoke shop, a place he had become more familiar with recently due to accidentally allowing his New Yorker subscription to lapse and now purchasing it each week at the store.
”Here’s another thing about Ali’s shop: There’s no haggling here. This may seem obvious, but apparently it’s not. I went in last Friday night to buy my New Yorker and saw an imposingly built young man try to haggle over the price of a single cigarillo.
“He fished in his pockets and spilled pennies on the counter. “C’mon, man!”
“You might have thought he’d insulted Ali’s grandmother. Ali sent that young man on his way.
“What, they think I’m going to bargain with them just because I have an accent?” he said to no one in particular, in his best indignant voice. Then he laughed. I did, too.”
I know that guy, Ali. Well, not Ali himself but a man just like him ran the bodega on my corner in Manhattan (probably every other bodega too) and I miss him.
The writer asked Ali why, no matter what he purchases, the price always comes out even to the dollar. Ali smiled. “I round it off. Less change; it’s good.”
My guy did that too and you won't get an argument from me about it.
There's more and it's a good story but you'll need to read the rest of it yourself because what I really came here to write about today is the importance of exercise even when we are old – maybe even moreso than when we were young.
(Actually, you should exercise all your life but here we are at this blog long past the young part and old is what we're stuck with.)
The writer of the smoke shop essay is Bill Hayes who is, according to The Times, the author of “a forthcoming history of exercise, Sweat."
I know this guy too – well, I know his name. I always pay attention when it shows up in the paper and it seemed a nice bit of serendipity that the topic of his upcoming book was a reminder that I needed to stop fooling around with the morning paper and get to work on Monday's blog post.
What I had intended to tell you is this: that never does a week go by without at least one new research study – and often two or three – being published showing that the only fountain of youth there is, is exercise.
Every week the studies come in from here, there and everywhere in the world all with the same conclusion:
”Maintaining or boosting your physical activity after age 65 can improve your heart's electrical well-being and lower your risk of heart attack...”
”Among older adults at risk of disability, participation in a structured moderate-intensity physical activity program...significantly reduced the risk of major mobility disability...”
I can give you many more of those – I have pages and pages of such links to research about the astonishing benefits of exercise for old people, young people, middle-aged people. All people.
But, even if I was reminded that I should be working, that word “Sweat” was calling my name and I couldn't resist following its link. You'll be happy I did; what I found is much more interesting than a compendium of scientific studies.
On Hayes's pages at the Red Room website, there is a blog post titled, 50 Reasons to Exercise Now, Not Later. It starts out like this:
”For years, I've been carrying around in my head thoughts, observations, and personal tips on exercise. I've started to keep a list: 'Sweat 101s,' I call them.”
And each one is a little miracle of motivation. A sampling:
#1: Try to learn something new every time you exercise. Start today.
#3: Don’t exercise only because it’s good for you in the long run. Life is short. Find other reasons.
#8: See someone rocking out & clearly enjoying running on the treadmill? Ask what they’re listening to. Buy that music.
#16: Don’t designate 3 days a week, e.g., for exercise. You will come to dread them. Instead, exercise every day—some more, some less, sometimes at the gym, sometimes not. Think of exercise as just a synonym for movement.
#27: What is good for your body is good for your brain. Clear your head: Work up a sweat.
#50: Get exercise because of how it makes you feel NOW—in your body, about your body, about yourself—not because of how it may make you feel or look later. There may be no "later."
Now go read all of Bill Hayes's 50 Sweat 101s. You will feel better and more eager about exercise than you ever have. Me? I can't wait to get to the fitness center this morning.
And remember, even if your mobility is limited, there are plenty of ways to get the benefits of the kinds of exercise you can do. Search online for “limited mobility exercise” and as always, check with your physician before beginning.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: I Have Become One of “Them”