My husband and I went on a vacation this past month in Palm Springs with my parents. One day I looked down to see what appeared to be a water aerobics class gathering at the pool in our resort. My mom loves water aerobics, so I suggested that we head down there and join in. When we got there they were just starting.. As we got in the water the instructor, Pete, asked us where we had been all week. This was Friday and it was obvious that the other participants had been with him the whole week. We told him that we had been busy golfing, working out at the gym and other things. We assured him that we would be able to keep up with the class. After all, my mom—who is 75—sometimes does water aerobics 5 days a week.
As we got in the water, we figured that they were just warming up with the very basic, low impact moves they were doing. Not so. That’s pretty much what the class was for the full 30 minutes. There were times when my mom would try to increase the impact and get her heart rate up a little and the instructor would say to her “Dorothy don’t bounce, just keep your body still as you move your arms.” When they did kicks, the others in the class would move to the side of the pool and hold onto the edge. Not my mom. She would stand there balanced on one leg and do a forceful kick backwards and forwards.
At the end of the class, Pete circled us and shared how excited he was with the progress the class had made. “Remember on Tuesday you couldn’t do any of these moves and look at you today!” I was stunned to look around the class and see men and women at least 10 years younger than my mom hardly moving.
Pete then said “Just think if you keep this up, one day when you’re as old as Dorothy, you’ll be able to move like her.” He asked my mom how often she did water aerobics and what else she did to stay in shape. At that moment two things happened for me. As my mom answered, I realized how proud of her I am for the way she has taken care of herself. I also saw firsthand that what she has done has made a difference in her ageing.
I know it doesn’t always work out that way. People that are really healthy die everyday, but here she was with a group of people so much younger than her and she was clearly in much better shape then all of them. All of her hard work is paying big dividends as she ages. I think I needed this reminder to show me that what I’m doing now will make a difference. As a side note after the class my mom wanted to stay in the pool for another half hour and do a “Real” workout and get her heart rate up so she could feel like she got a workout in that day.
Later, I had a friend of mine tell me that I am so lucky that my parents take such good care of themselves. She has parents younger than mine that she is caring for. She said ”Their health is one of the best gifts that they can give you.”
And she was right.
Your health is the greatest gift you can give to those you love.
As I think about my future, I’ve decided I have a new motivation for eating right and exercising. I want to give the same gift of health to my children. If at all possible I want to take care of myself so I won’t have to have them take care of me. Also I want to set the example and be an inspiration to my children and grandchildren.
I’d love to hear what you’re motivation is for taking care of yourself. Maybe something you say will touch others in a way that will inspire them. You never know.