One morning, you wake up feeling more exhausted than usual. You look at yourself in the mirror, and it dawns on you just how much you’ve aged over the last number of years. Your kids are grown up now, you’re facing retirement, and you don’t feel like there’s any point in keeping healthy and active like you did when you were back in college, right?
Wrong! The aging process and getting older is no reason not to stay fit, healthy, active and vital. Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine for people over 40, shows you how – and why — you can maintain a healthy, active lifestyle well into your old age in her book Fitness After 40: How to Stay Strong at Any Age.
No matter your age, physical condition, or life’s circumstances, there is no excuse not to stay healthy and active all your life. In her book, Dr. Wright demonstrates that you can always take the time and make the effort to keep moving and take care of yourself; that physical injuries, illnesses, and the effects of aging shouldn’t prevent you from exercising; and that it is never too late to start getting active – that goes for even the most inactive couch potatoes well into their middle years (or beyond). Her book is designed to motivate you to get into shape — if you’re not already — and it also encourages those who healthy and active to keep on track and even push towards a higher goal.
Dr. Wright emphasizes how you must “F.A.C.E.” your future – that is, with Flexibility, Aerobic exercise, Carrying a load (i.e. resistance or weight training), and Equilibrium and balance. Being this book is a practical tool and a reference guide for physical fitness, Dr. Wright provides multiple examples and pictures of actual exercises, with step-by-step instructions on how to safely and properly perform them – everything from stretches (full body, arms, legs, etc.), to weight training, to aerobic exercises, and to exercises that help you with balance. She has also provided many “homework” questions at the end of each chapter to help you better focus on your fitness objectives.
In addition, she provides advice on recommended exercises, nutrition, injury prevention, testimonies and stories from some of her patients, as well as motivation and encouragement in achieving your personal ambitions – whether you are just getting up off the couch for the first time and starting to move, or whether you are a masters athlete wanting to prepare for the upcoming marathon run.
However, simply keeping fit and active is not enough. The real message here is to exercise and live smart – to not overexert yourself, or ignore warning signs of physical pain or injury, or try to do too much at once when you do exercise. She makes you aware of how your body functions, especially as you age, and how to avoid potential common injuries when performing exercises or participating in sports activities. (She even advises on the best kinds of shoes or equipment to wear, as well as how to choose a gym or personal trainer). But above all, she shows you how you can incorporate a fitness regime into your schedule (and budget) – and how you can do it properly and with the desired results.
Fitness After 40 is not meant to be read simply from front to back without doing the exercises and assignments found throughout its contents. Various pictures and illustrations of the exercises performed (many by Dr. Wright herself), along with quotations, charts, and bullets for emphasis all help to break up the book, making it an otherwise light and fast-paced read. All her instructions for performing the exercises are easy and straightforward, and her message is informative and to-the-point.
As I fall in the “under-40’s” age bracket, I find that this is a book that anyone can read and put into practice (some of the exercises in this book are ones I have done at the gym, myself!). After all, I may not be 40 yet, but I sure don’t have the stamina that I had when I was a teen or in my early 20’s. If you happen to be under 40, it doesn’t hurt to read this book and take Dr. Wright’s advice, as most of it can apply to anyone – we’re all getting older every day, and even those of us under 40 also need to take care of our health and well-being long before then. No matter how old you are – under 40, over 40, or beyond – or how fit or unfit, this is a book to take to heart.
About the Authors
Dr. Vonda Wright, M.D. is an orthopaedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine for people over 40. She is the creator of the F.A.C.E. exercise program, which was designed to help mature athletes with their fitness goals, as well as the Director of PRIMA (the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes) at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She has consulted with the Senior Olympics and is a frequent guest lecturer, award-winning researcher and a nationally recognized authority on healthy aging. She has also appeared on CNN, ABC-TV News, in Newsweek and USA Today, and has contributed to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Maxim, and other periodicals.
Crany Winter, M.S., is an award-winning science writer and is the author of 34 books including A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. She lives in Short Hills, NJ.