It was just a year ago that Marion Iwane, 88, read a story in Generations Magazine about a senior in her 90s who started exercising at age 77. Inspired by the story, Marion decided to come in for help with balance, weakness and pain in her hips and shoulders. One month into the program, Marion suffered a mild stroke. After a brief stay in the hospital, she was sent to a nursing rehabilitation facility. Two months later, Marion’s daughter brought her back in to see me. Seeing her with a walker and weak on the left side of her body due to the stroke, I knew we had some work to do. I had successfully worked with another client who suffered a much stronger stroke, so I had high hopes for Marion’s recovery.
Marion has come in twice a week for the last 10 months. We started with moving the joints and light stretching, working our way up to strength and flexibility exercises. While training the right and then the left side of the body, it was important that she not lead with her dominant side. When she accomplishes one task we move on to a new one, continually stimulating her brain and connecting the mind to the movement. In the beginning there were times when she wanted to stop coming. Thanks to her daughter who encouraged her to continue, her attitude toward exercise has changed. One day she said to me, “I want to be strong like you.” Wow, that made my day!
In addition to exercise, Marion and I have worked on infusing her diet with healthy nutrients through green smoothies. Getting enough fruits and vegetables into our diets is important for good health and longevity. We also need healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from avocados, raw nuts, fatty fish, etc.) to maintain brain function and help with cellular communication. We add flaxseed and coconut oil into our smoothies as an easy way to ensure we get our good fats.
Nearly a year later, Marion is stronger and more flexible than prior to the stroke. The pain she was having in her shoulders and hips is gone. She no longer uses a walker and sometimes forgets her cane in the studio after her workout.
Marion continues to feel better and stronger. I am so proud of her and grateful that she allowed me to share her story to inspire others not to give up regardless of our age and obstacles.
It is important for all of us to connect the mind and body through movement patterns and exercise (neuromechanics). The more connections — the more brain activity — the healthier the mind, body and spirit.