Third Age: Notes from the gym - Opinion - Explorer

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Third Age: Notes from the gym

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There’s a huge floor to ceiling chalkboard at the gym where I spend most every morning.  It’s like lo-tech Facebook, filled with encouraging notes of inspiration and successes about exercise.  “You only get out what you put in.” Stuff like that. And lately the rewards are in the headlines on the blackboard: “Total cholesterol down from 288 to 186”, “Finally, three weigh-ins below 215-pounds.” All anonymous, of course.

But if you look to the big room in the back there’s a sea of determined faces, all belonging to baby boomers, all shapes and sizes, all apparently very aware of the lifestyle changes necessary for a healthy life. 

My friend, Doctor Walter Bortz at Stanford, in his latest blog - “Dare to be 100,” says that of all the thousands of articles he’s read in medical journals in his 61 years as a physician, the one that stands out is the one entitled: “Actual Causes of Death in the United States” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1992. Dr. Bortz writes, “The terms on the death certificates of our nation’s forms are wrong. Heart, stroke and cancer aren’t the actual causes of death. The causes are the antecedent behaviors, the lifestyle factors, which lead to terminal events.”

Bortz insists, as he has time and again, that “medical science is derelict in not focusing on behavior.” Emphasis on health rather than disease. The folks down at the gym are getting the message, getting fit for their kids, grandkids and themselves.

And now the future is taking a foothold in Oro Valley’s Heart and Soul Gymnastics-dance fitness, owned by Deanna Graham.  Deanna, a gymnast since age 4 with a full ride gymnastic scholarship to the University of Arizona where she graduated this year, is wasting no time following her dream. She’s committed to assisting children in developing a lifelong love of fitness including nutrition, behind a “fitness attitude”. If I had a hat, it would be off to Deanna. What a worthy goal.  She’s located, by the way, down by Gadabout on the west side of Oracle.

Our nation, our doctors and health care professionals need to accept this fitness attitude and as Bortz suggests, “morph into the next medicine with prevention rather than repair medicine’s focal strategy”. Meanwhile, I’ll keep waiting for a message on the blackboard, down at the gym, that folks are finally beginning to dump their high blood pressure and cholesterol pills.

That will make Bortz very happy. 

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