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Making the 90-year-old marathon runner STOP being the exception, and START being the rule!

The rise of social media has created a space for us to share stories. Stories that inspire us, stories that make us cry, cat videos. You know they’re all there.

Recently, I have been seeing a lot of videos that show examples of inspiring seniors maintaining their activity, breaking records and being STRONG into their 70s, 80, 90s, even 100s. I love seeing these videos and they go viral! It is amazing to see the potential of the human body as we get older and it starts to break aging stereotypes.

So here’s my dilemma.

These videos going viral mean that they’re the EXCEPTION, not the RULE.

My challenge for everyone is that we need to start a movement (pun intended). This movement will make it so that more and more older adults are maintaining activity and not just walking – weights, running, sports, whatever they want to do. This objective requires all-hands-on-deck.

Physical therapists and fitness professionals need to be EDUCATING their clients about the importance of maintaining activity and still continuing to exercise regardless of age. Setting clients up for success by giving them the tools that they need to be able to maintain their activity level year-in and year-out. They need to be treating the injury a client comes to them for but then also opening up the lines of communication around exercise, nutrition, and overall well-being.

Doctors need to be treating chronic conditions with the medications that are necessary but also the EXERCISE interventions that have shown to have such POSITIVE effects! Exercise is Medicine is a wonderful initiative that advocates for the use of exercise as just as important a medical intervention as the prescription medications commonly seen to treat chronic conditions.

Those clients need to be taking that advice. We all know that we need to stay active and healthy. We’re bombarded by it on the media. It’s time for a culture shift. One that makes exercise a norm. A part of everyone’s day. I’m talking about retirement years but it’s true across the lifespan! We need to make exercise and movement the expectation!

The families of those clients also have an important role to play. As much as their medical team should be their advocates, I see the family as their cheerleaders. They’re the ones who can enable their family members to stay active. If, even better, exercise is done together it creates a strong sense of togetherness and creates a social network that is even stronger.

I recognize that there are some circumstances that prevent physical activity. But I counter that with the belief that EVERY PERSON is able to show positive change through movement. Even if that means getting up more often.

We have the power to start this change. In the example of physical activity and the messages we give every single day to the people we interact with.

The 90-year old marathon runner or the 80-year old who deadlifts 200 lbs is inspiring! But let’s make that more common. Let’s be bombarded with these incredible stories so that we see them as the norm.

THAT is my goal.

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