My grandfather is 94 years old. He is sound of mind and body and that is probably because he gets more exercise than most people in their twenties. He spends about forty five minutes each morning doing these exercises – not because he enjoys them but because he believes that they are important. Doing these exercises is no guarantee that you will stay healthy, but I’m sure it improves your odds.
With his permission I have included his exercise plan below, written up four years ago and still followed today.
Aside: my grandfather wrote a book about his adventures, including his escape from a Japanese POW camp through China. Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing a copy.
Here we go:
Design for a good long life.
It is possible that you will need to try these exercises and find that you can do very little of them to start with, do what you can, but keep trying, and you will hopefully find that you can do more each time you try, until you can do them all.
The day begins for me, at the age of 90 years, by getting up at about 7:00 am, although I admit that I might have been up twice during the night, turn back the bed to air, and shave and do the teeth, remake the bed. You may regard this as trivial, but this activity has given you necessary body movement, so that you are now ready to do your exercises.
These are designed to move every joint in your body, and to activate every muscle in your body, and stretch every ligament. These are to be done before breakfast.
In my case I do the first ones in the bathroom which contains a shower, because my shower has a ‘C’ channel which is strong. If you do not have this, then this will be your only expense, for you need a bar that will bear your full weight.
All you should wear to do these exercises are a pair of shorts, and perhaps a singlet. Anything more will detract from your ability to do them.
First grab the bar with both hands to take most of your weight, then trot 26 times, 13 for each foot. Then still holding the bar in the same manner do 26 knees-up, 13 for each foot then pause. This should make the need for oxygen in your lungs show, thereby forcing you to breathe more deeply, thus exercising the lungs, try to breathe while doing these exercises, do not hold your breath, pause before the next exercise.
Then returning to the bar do 5 pull-ups so that your feet leave the ground completely, and you take your full weight on your arms each time.
Now you do not need the bar again. I do the rest of the exercises in my bedroom.
Next do 5 squats down onto your heels and up again. Do this with your feet apart, and maintain your balance throughout the exercise. This is not easy for most people, but when you think of a good dive into water, this is achieved by balance, and the head (the heaviest part of the body) and the arms are the parts of your body that allow you to enter the water cleanly without a splash. Another pause for deep breathing, for this exercise activates many muscles. In the middle of doing this I have added rolling the head around to relieve the tension in the neck.
Next feet still firmly planted, feet apart, swing your hips from left to right, then right to left altogether 20 times; then move your hips front to back total 5 times, thus moving your hip joints thoroughly.
Next standing with legs apart lift your arms straight up pointing to the ceiling, then swing your arms down in front of your body, crossing them so that the left arm swings as far to the right, and the right arm as far to the left as possible, repeat but change the crossing to the opposite of what you did the first time, repeat this process 10 times.
Still standing as above, then with fists clenched and the body leaning forward throw your shoulders back, so that your elbows are hugging your hips, then throw your arms to the ceiling and down again to the floor and back to the last hip position, repeat this sequence 5 times. Pause for breath.
Next standing, but leaning slightly forward, do over arm swimming 8 times with each arm, total 16.
Still standing with legs apart, and keeping your feet firmly planted, lift your head to look at the ceiling, then down to look at the floor, returning to look straight ahead again. Then in this upright position turn your body to the left so that you can see that picture on the wall directly behind you, then remain firmly planted during this exercise. Repeat once more. This exercise should move the whole of your spinal column and the muscles that govern your head movements.
Next with feet apart again, standing straight up, hands down and relaxed. Move both hands together out to the sides, and parallel with the floor, from this position strenuously throw the arms up with clenched fists, so that your elbows are still parallel with the floor and your fists almost in your ears, in this way you are exercising the two main muscles in your arms, this you should do 15 times.
Now it is time to do 5 more of the squat exercises, and the job is done.
However there is still one more thing to do in the exercise part of the program, and that is walking. I try to do at least one mile every day, you probably should do more if not restricted by some other ailment, I am restricted by having a breathing problem and depend to some extent on an inhalant. Walking is the best way to keep the bowels open in a natural way, that is to say without having to resort to other means such as Metamucil, however yellow fruit such as bananas and yellow mango will also do the job.
There is a very good article taken from “Reader’s Digest” on medications (Knowledge is the best medicine), on what you should do and what you should not do, after that there is only the question of what to eat, which I leave to a good dietician, but to this I add “do not snack at any time” and do not eat anything after your evening meal until breakfast the next morning, but have a good breakfast, and a light midday meal.
In general only use the drugs your good GP tells you to use, ignore entirely the advice you see on TV or in the newspapers on drugs and vitamins, what is good for one person may well be very harmful to another.
The bad ass reddit discussion of this post can be found here.