Jenny had been living alone for about three years. Since her husband of more than 50 years passed away, her family was constantly checking in on her. Her friends got her out and about, she began to live again, but they had a tendency to tell her to take it easy, slow down, and not overdo it.
At the time, it sounded like sage advice.
They didn’t want her to slip and fall, try to do too much, and put herself in a potentially dangerous situation. She even began avoiding going for walks in the park, heading to the mall in the morning with friends, and doing other activities that could potentially be deemed risky.
Three years later, Jenny was having extreme difficulty staying safe.
She would find herself waking up in the middle of the night at times to use the bathroom, and having extreme difficulty just slipping out of bed. She felt unsteady on her feet. She couldn’t believe how weak she felt.
Part of this was a lack of exercise and activity.
Many family members discourage their loved ones from doing certain activities because they worry about safety. Jenny’s family was doing this exact thing. They were discouraging her from exercising, gardening, going to the park, and doing other things she enjoyed because they didn’t think she would be safe doing them on her own.
She spent more time sitting on the couch watching TV or reading a book. It was lonely and after a while it became frustrating. However, not even Jenny was aware of the impact this type of advice was having on her physical strength, stamina, and endurance.
When a person is not getting exercise, their heart is not getting exercise. Their legs are not getting exercise. Their arms are not getting exercise. If a person is not exercising, their muscles will weaken. When that happens, their strength declines.
It’s important for those who are healthy enough for exercise to develop some type of safe routine to stay fit and active as well as safer in the future.
Jenny had to learn this lesson the hard way, as did her family who felt guilty about the advice they had given her for those three years. She did get involved in physical therapy and an exercise routine to start regaining at least some of the strength she had lost, and it helped her feel better, but more importantly than that it helped her be a bit safer as well.