By: Dr. Jerry Bergman
Partly to spend more time with my wife, I started attending chair yoga classes in Montpelier. After my first visit, it was apparent that the classes consisted of stretching exercises to loosen up the body’s tendons and ligaments, as well as build muscle and practice deep breathing, which is helpful to supply the needed oxygen to the entire body.
From my experience working as a therapist at the Toledo pain clinic, these exercises have proved very helpful to deal with neck and back pain. One of my concerns is balance, an issue I found others my age also struggle with.
In the past, I had severe back pain and sciatica for which I spent much time and money for chiropractic care, pain medicine, and even shots in my spine. Nothing helped.
From reading, I learned that one common life-time solution was certain exercises, which I have been faithfully doing for the past 23 years. I now rarely have back pain. At the most, I may take one Celebrex a month.
From this experience, I am convinced of the efficacy of exercise. Use it or lose it. Doing exercise in a group ensures they are faithfully done and done right.
Also, $3.00 a class is cheaper than the medical clinic’s physical therapy program which may cost $80.00 an hour, although it does have the advantage of individual care.
When I was in my third year of high school, I took up weightlifting. I faithfully lifted three times a week for well over two years. I had two reasons for lifting.
I was around 5’10”, 150 pounds thin, and felt looking stronger would deter being picked on and would also impress the girls.
After over a year, it was apparent that I was not going to look much different in spite of my almost three hours of hard work each week. But I was much stronger.
I could press close to 200 pounds and do sit-ups with over 60 pounds held to the back of my neck with ease.
Weightlifting was a great deal of work, so my large double set of weights sat unused until I gave them to a friend a few years later.
About ten years ago I took up weightlifting again for cardiovascular reasons, an activity that, according to my cardiologist, has done wonders for my health.
I also am an active runner, which my cardiologist also praised with an excellent report. In high school, when preparing to run a mile for track in gym class, we were told to go easy at first in order to save energy to finish. I knew that I was a good runner, though, so for our class exercise I took off as fast as I could.
As I ran the third time around the quarter mile long track, I looked around and noticed that no one was near me.
Wondering where everyone was, I looked behind me and saw the entire gym class trailing me! So I kept up my pace. Even though I was not in training, I finished well ahead of everyone else.
When I completed the run, I slowed down, as we were told to do, and a dozen or more of my fellow classmates yelled, “Way to go Bergman! Great job!” This was the first time—ever—that I earned praise for my limited athletic ability.
Praise from peers can do wonders. To this day I endeavor to run in my daily activities, even if it was only from the parking lot to the store door.
I have a dog which, a motivation to have him was to walk, often run, to keep up with him four times a day.
I have seen so many friends my age or younger with major health problems, especially cardiovascular.
They retire, spend their day watching YouTube, and gain 70 or more pounds until I no longer recognize them.
No wonder in the past few years I have seen several lifelong friends pass away. The negative for my health is I am responsible for, on average, three publishable articles a week and I had six books I authored come out this year alone.
To accomplish this requires much time on the computer, writing and researching. Not good for my back, so I increased my physical activities to, I hope, compensate. Our body was designed to be engaged in an active lifestyle. Use or lose it!