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Daughter Alyson amazed at her mother’s flexibility at 90

Unlike my father, Arinbjorn Sigurgeirsson Bardal (1886-1951), whose favourite question was “How’s your liver?”
(Pabbi was Grand Chief Templar of the International Order of Good Templars that met regularly in the IOGT Hall, well known as the Goolie Hall, at Sargent and McGee St. in Winnipeg), I’m more concerned with muscles and joints.

 
Being free of aches and pains requires eating a well-balanced diet, practicing moderation in all things, and maintaining a normal weight. I have found that regular exercise has been absolutely essential to my good state of health that I am now enjoying in my 91st year.

I have been asked how I have accomplished this feat. I give a lot of credit to the fact that as a kid I somehow got my hands on a small pack of Turret Cigarettes. With a pal, I sat in the bush in Loni Beach, near Gimli, where we smoked until I became deathly ill. That was the cure. I could never again tolerate smoking a cigarette. I was always athletic.

I well remember one of my Sunday School classmates telling me she used to hope I wouldn’t turn up at the First Lutheran Church Sunday School picnic. I always beat her in the races. As kids, instead of sitting at a computer or the TV, we played baseball, hockey, “Kick the Can” or “tag” as well as many other activities.

During the thirties and forties when money was scarce, we bicycled or walked to wherever we had to go. After giving birth to four children I worked on exercises, often following some instructor (Ed Allen) on TV, to flatten my abdomen again.

I took Yoga and tried jogging. But at age 65, when I received my first “OLD AGE” pension cheque, I did a double take. I’d never considered myself as part of the “OLD AGE” scene. One day while sitting in the Doctor’s waiting room, where I was anticipating a yearly check up, there on the table beside me was a brochure from the Reh Fit Centre.

To me it was like a message from above. That did it. I joined the Centre and what a Godsend it has been. There are several fitness places in this city. It’s important to have qualified instructors and to check with your doctor before trying anything strenuous. At my Centre all the instructors are fully qualified.

A nurse and Doctor are on hand and a stress test is offered along with your yearly application. For the past twenty-five years I have continued to attend a “Total Body Conditioning” class three times a week. This hour-long class has kept this old body strong and healthy. Every muscle is stretched and strengthened with use of weights and tubing, then going down on a mat to exercise stomach and back muscles.

As well, brisk walking on the track stimulates heart muscles and lungs.  Without doubt, brisk walking or jogging are beneficial but it is stretch and strength exercises that are essential in keeping the rest of our bodies functioning without pain from stiffness because of lack of use.

Having a well-exercised body we can recover more quickly from illness or surgery. During these past 25 years I have had one hip replacement and undergone four major abdominal surgeries. Knowing this old Amma is so active sets an example for the rest of my family.

Like I do, several have their bronze medallions in swimming. Alyson Sigridur has her National Life Guard credentials along with her son, Ben who teaches swimming, and daughter, Stefanie, who was in charge of swimming at the YMCA summer camp. Daughter Margret has, twice, walked the 788 kilometres Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Daughter Elizabeth does Yoga and son Donald keeps active at his cottage. Even great grandson, Greydon, is becoming a talented hockey player at age seven. Your body ages like your car. You can’t hire a mechanic to keep it running and free of rust. It’s entirely up to you to keep fit.

No one can do it for you. So don’t wait, do it now.

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