I find it funny when people say, “You look good! Why do you exercise?” I respond, “Maybe it’s because I exercise that I look good. ”When I encourage people to exercise, they often say, “I don’t have time in my busy life.” I then ask, “How is your life so busy?” The usual answer is, “I work nine hours a day with an hour commute.” That’s when I share that I’m a daddy of six active children, an arts administrator, and a religion teacher at church. And oh, by the way, I also have kidney disease. But I’ve made a commitment to myself to exercise at least three times a week. Life is about choices, and I choose to “Exercise for LIFE!”
For me, learning about the benefits of exercise was my “ah-ha” moment. The possible benefits of regular exercise (especially for those who are living with kidney disease) include lower blood pressure, more energy, greater endurance and flexibility, less stress, less risk of heart disease, an active sex life, a better self-image, and a positive outlook. Everyone has a different capacity for exercise and should therefore discuss any proposed exercise program with a doctor. A person should stop exercising immediately if any of the following occur: shortness of breath, chest pain, severe headache, or a racing heart rate.
There are so many ways to exercise. I enjoy weight lifting, which keeps my muscles healthy and my body fit. The treadmill is a great way to burn calories (from my weakness for cheesecake). Water aerobics has proven to be beneficial for me too: It raises my heart rate, and my annual bone density test has shown that I have little bone disease. I also enjoy my conversations with the ladies in the class—there are advantages to being the only man! My wife Elaine and I alternate between water aerobics, weight lifting, and the treadmill.
Exercising with a “buddy” provides companionship, encouragement, and accountability. I’ve made a lot of friends at the YMCA, where my family has had a membership for many years. My water aerobics class celebrates milestones with monthly lunches, and it was during my regular workouts that I met Joe, my role model. Sometimes I find myself trying to keep up with him, not only in exercising but also in sharing jokes. I’m blessed to have such an extraordinary man in my life. Did I mention that he’s twice my age? As Joe says, “I’m 82 years young. What’s your problem?”
Most YMCAs offer discount programs based on ability to pay. Other fitness centers may also offer discounts to seniors, students, and families. My family membership costs about $400 a year, which is a little more than a dollar a day. Most people spend that much on a drink or snack. Why not invest the money in your health instead? It’s priceless!
About the Author
Martinlow Spaulding, MAA, is Operations Manager for the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra and a two-time recipient of ESRD Network 9/10’s Felter Patient Award. Diagnosed with kidney disease in 1992, he’s received two transplants, both from his siblings. He’s a weKAN patient activist and a PEPP speaker with the Renal Support Network. He lives in Indiana with his wife and six children.
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