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[EDITOR'S NOTES]

Exercise: Not Just for Kids Anymore

THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 25 - NO. 9 - SEPTEMBER 97


The "Contempo 1997" issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (June 18, 1997) was devoted entirely to updates in specific areas of medical practice. The section "Geriatric Medicine," by William B. Applegate, MD, MPH, and Marco Pahor, MD, hit a home run. The authors noted that

...Older persons who maintain or adopt a lifestyle with increased moderate daily physical activity derive numerous health benefits. Furthermore, it is now apparent that aerobic power, muscle strength, balance, and flexibility are all important aspects of maintaining physical function, and each of these domains can be addressed by specific types of exercise.

True! But, unfortunately, not appreciated by most older people—or their physicians. What to do?

Physicians are among the more frequent and authoritative contacts older people have. If we recognize the value of including simple exercise specifics in our treatment plans, patients' health and mobility are likely to improve significantly.

Simple measures can have results that seem miraculous to patients. Take an example provided by our editorial board member Bill Roberts, MD, of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. His own mother, age 78, couldn't get out of a low chair because of weakness. She had been active in younger days, but had been doing less and less walking. Bill bought her a Mother's Day present of a graduated set of step aerobics platforms. He instructed her to begin slowly: She placed the 2-in. platform by her kitchen counter, which she used for support, and stepped up five times with each leg. When she reached 40 repetitions, she graduated to the 4-in. platform, then to the 6-in. Within 2 months, she could get up from her chair and in and out of the bath with ease.

Bill tells this story to his older patients, and has inspired many of them to take up simple forms of exercise as well. For background information and more detailed direction on how to implement this approach, see this month's installment in our "Exercise Is Medicine" series, "Decreased Mobility in the Elderly: The Exercise Antidote." And please write us with comments, pearls, and suggestions to help us bring you more about this critical area of sports medicine.

Cordially,
Richard H. Strauss, MD
Editor-in-Chief


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