You probably already know that exercise helps you stay strong, healthy and independent as you get older.
It also helps when life throws you a curve in the form of, say, a common injury or medical treatment.
Take it from Shebah Carfagna, who underwent hip replacement surgery five months ago and is almost back to being her old self completely. She credits her physical fitness with helping her relatively smooth recovery process.
“You have to take what life gives you and make it work and adjust,” says Shebah, 61.
Even fit people can face physical struggles, of course. But it’s also true that their fitness then helps them overcome those challenges.
Consider this evidence. Mature adults who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer a disability – and they are more likely to recover faster, according to one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers said the active participants in the study had been “built up” by exercise and had become “more resilient” than sedentary peers
And the National Institutes for Health concludes that exercise before and after surgery is important for ensuring its success in older Americans.
Hip pain, and trouble with balance
Shebah is living proof.
When Shebah, 61, started losing her balance and feeling strong pain in her hip, she took it seriously. The studio owner and trainer went to her doctor, who told her she needed the procedure.
Shebah had questions, and she conducted research to find the answers, asking medical professionals and looking online to answer questions like, “How do you manage going forward with your life after a major surgery? How do you prepare for it, so it will be successful?”
First, she didn’t blame herself or her active lifestyle as a personal fitness trainer and gym owner. Normal wear and tear is a natural part of life, not necessarily something to be mystified about. It’s important, she learned, to consult with medical professionals, and to take care of herself.
She learned that “pre-hab” is just as important as the well-known “rehab” phase. So, even though she already was fit, Shebah worked with her doctors and partner to prepare for the surgery by eating properly and working on her core strength in advance.
‘You just can’t stop’
After surgery, her doctor had her walk a little right away, which was “painful but necessary” to healing.
In the coming days and weeks, she followed doctors’ and therapists’ directions, worked hard in therapy, and kept a positive attitude, even when she couldn’t snap back as quickly as she wanted.
“I still think I’m 30,” she says, adding, “No one is going to take better care of you than you are.”
She was soon back to training clients, going to boot camp classes — even taking tennis lessons.
“I have to take it day by day, and work to get better every day,” she learned. “It’s important for the body to continue to move. You just can’t stop become something happens. You have to keep going.”
Lessons for everyone
If you experience illness, injury or a medical procedure, remember that it doesn’t have to end your commitment to physical fitness.
We can tell you plenty of stories about people we know like Shebah, who worked with their doctors and healthcare providers, as well as fitness professionals at their studio or gym – and emerged with a renewed commitment to healthy living.
Talk to your doctor, and come see us if you have any questions about strength training, cardio conditioning, stretching and more.
Being physically fit helps you face whatever challenges may come – in addition to making you feel better, look better, and enjoy every day more. We can help you find the answers you need to lead the life you want to live.