I wonder what has come to your mind now! I am talking about the strong relationship between exercise and the muscles of the body.
Twenty one years ago, one rainy day, I was involved in a nearly fatal road traffic accident. I broke two of the six bones of the neck. It is really a miracle that I am up and bout today and thankfully not in a wheelchair.
After eight weeks of neck traction and two operations on the neck, I was on my feet again and had fallen back into my normal routine.
Since then I have thanked God for this gift of life each time I wake up in the morning. I also damaged the nerve to the little finger and fourth finger of the right hand. From that time, it has always been clear to me that if I am to have a functional right hand and strong neck muscles,
I have to exercise the muscles intentionally. Regular exercise combined with dogged determination, have strengthened the muscles, and helped to maintain balance and flexibility. The need to lead a normal life and be as independent as I can has always motivated me to focus on the exercise routine.
I was doing extremely well until age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints set in. Some of my muscles have grown smaller as muscle tissues are being replaced by fibrous tissues. The movements are becoming slow. The changes are more pronounced in the once injured right hand. My hand writing is changing for the worse. It can be scary at times.
As expected, the orthopedic surgeon’s advice has remained the same: “Exercise the muscles or lose them.” Research has shown that at least half of age –related changes to muscles, bones and joints are caused by inactivity or disuse. I have to motivate myself to do enough exercises to maintain strong bones, muscles, bones and joints. While thinking about this change in my life, I recognized that motivation changes with time. At this moment in time, what motivates me to keep strong and healthy is the desire to carry my grandchildren. I remembered one television interview of Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man. He was asked what motivated him to do what he does. By then, early in his career, he badly needed to clear all his debts, build homes and have financial security for himself and his family. He had gone on to explain that motivation had helped him focus on what was most important at that time. With motivation, discipline and commitment he became the best and a legend in his own right.
In my simple way, I am ready to challenge myself before my time runs out.
Many times during the day, the orthopedic surgeon’s words keep playing themselves in my head: “Use it or lose it.” It got me thinking about other things in life which we lose if we do not use them.
Among them are:
• Brain Function- Science has proved that the brain requires continued stimulation and challenging not to suffer functional decline. Simple unchallenging tasks will not stimulate the brain so the task you are doing has to keep you engaged, must be important and meaningful to you.
According to Dr. Michael Merzenich Ph. D, of Scientific Learning Corporation in Oakland , California ,by the age of forty, you are largely using the abilities you acquired early in life. You could be said to be in ‘automated pilot’ mode. You are doing things without being consciously engaged in what you are doing. As a result, gradually the brain function begins to slowly deteriorate. You become slow in action and slow in making decisions.
You can reverse this functional decline by appropriate stimulation of the brain with new challenges. He recommends that we find ways to engage ourselves in new learning all our lives by taking on new hobbies or learn new skills.
Anybody above 50 years can engage in work that demands your attention and focus. It will keep your brain young, many years younger than your biological age.
Dr. Merzenich has a website where you can pick different exercises designed to improve brain function and allow you to track and monitor your progress over time.
The website is: BrainHQ.com. It is one of the oldest and most widely used and is supported by dozens of published Science studies.
I have taken time to go through some of these brain exercises. Like all forms of exercise,
you have to play them for some time to enjoy the benefits of increased capacity to record and remember information and improved brain speed and accuracy.
• Acquired Knowledge and Skills- Scientific studies have shown that the brain loses 10% of what it has learned each year. In five years , you will have lost 50% of what you have learned. To reduce this rate, you have to practice and read regularly to keep what you know, to update what you already know and to learn new things. You practice, read, share and add on what you know to stay relevant and useful to yourself and others.
This explains why Learning is said to be a lifetime job. In this era of information technology, there is an information overload and the information changes often and fast so one has to learn and relearn fast to keep abreast with the times.
• TIME- Time is considered to be the most precious commodity in life. We all have only 24 hours in a day and the most successful among us are those who have mastered the art of getting more out of life in those 24 hours.
Time once lost, cannot be recovered.
Time and tide wait for no man. – Geoffrey Chaucer.
Most of us always complain about not having enough time to do what we want to do and what is demanded of us from the different roles we have taken on in life. We are daughters, mothers, professionals, friends and members of our communities.
Seneca, a Roman philosopher said: “ It is not that we have a short time to live but we waste a lot of it. Life is long if you know how to use it.”
Michael Hyatt, the renowned American virtual coach has come up with some strategies and tactics to help us put the 24 hours to the best use. Top among these is Prioritization. You prioritize what is most important to you at that moment in time and keep sight of your priorities. You will become more effective and efficient because you will be spending 80% of your time on the 20% most important things in your life. This will help you to reclaim your health, time and sanity.
“We have enough time if we use it well.’’
“ If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.’’ – Maria Edgeworth
Is there anything precious in your life that you lost by not using it?
When was the last time you felt that you had enough time in 24 hours of the day? What were you doing?