By Sean Clark
Robert Leo Booth, who turned 100 on November 27, is not just the oldest but one of the most enthusiastic clients at Gordon’s Center for Balance, Wellness and Mobility. From Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Booth (pictured) had a productive career in civil engineering, which included working on the Manhattan Project during World War II and, postwar, working with various engineering firms. Around the house Bob has also been, as his son-in-law, Peter O’Keefe, puts it, “the ultimate tinkerer/handyman.”
Earlier this year, Bob tripped on a rug, sustaining injuries that required surgery and weeks of rehab. Peter was familiar with Gordon’s Center, and encouraged Bob to continue there with a program of biweekly workouts. “Thanks to the encouragement and attention of the Gordon Wellness Center staff, these workouts provide him with a source of pride and purpose,” Peter says.
Bob is one of 150 regularly participating members benefitting from the CBMW’s state-of-the-art equipment, individualized fitness assessments, and programs. Another member who began a fitness program at the Center this summer describes the environment as being “free from competitiveness and comparison, where I can proceed at my own pace, ask for suggestions or advice if I need it, and chart my improvement.”
Knowing the appropriate type and amount of exercise is important for achieving optimal health benefits. Advice from a fitness professional may be necessary to design an exercise plan that builds muscular strength, balance, flexibility and aerobic fitness. Health experts say individuals aged 45 to 54 should spend two-and-a-half hours each week doing moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and also work out at least twice a week doing muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups.
However, research by the Centers for Disease Control indicates that fewer than 20 percent of Americans in that age range meet those goals. Older adults are even less active; fewer than 7 percent of Americans over 74 do the amount of aerobic activity and muscle strengthening recommended for their age bracket.
Motivation is critical, too. Many of us are familiar with research that links lack of regular exercise to increased risk for coronary heart disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and various cancers, plus an increased risk of falls. These health concerns may motivate some of us to make a change in our sedentary lifestyles and patterns of inactivity. Others may find the benefits of physical activity more persuasive: improvements in overall health and well-being, weight loss, improved mood, better balance, increased opportunities for recreation, and prolonged independence.
Even individuals who would have difficulty exercising on their own (for physical or cognitive reasons) can take important steps toward better health by taking advantage of the Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness’s unique assisted exercise membership option.
In the words of the ancient philosopher, Plato, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Sean Clark joined the kinesiology faculty at Gordon in 2000, and also serves as the director for the Gordon College Center for Balance, Mobility and Wellness. His current research interests focus on development of effective treatment strategies to improve functional balance performance in older adults.
NEXT: A Winning View