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by Carole Carson, AARP, October 14, 2008
Legally blind from an inherited condition, David Ayala, 63, of Nevada City, Calif., has a lifelong commitment to staying fit. He isn't disciplined so much as practical; he feels better when he's in shape.
He ran track in high school in the early '60s and, in his own words, "just kept on running." He says, "Some friends got into their cars at 16, never got out, and now wonder why they have back problems."
David isn't happy unless he's moving. If he isn't light on his feet from balance exercises, weights, jogging, and aerobic exercises, "I feel grumpy," he says.
Without vision, balance and fitness are more difficult to achieve. If you want to test the truth of this statement, try balancing on one leg with your eyes closed. Now try balancing on one leg with your eyes open to see how important strength is. Consequently, David focuses on both balance and fitness during his workouts.
He also manages his weight and stays constant in his fitness focus. One motivation for increasing his fitness, he says, resulted from 25 years of smoking.
David would joke with his friends about smoking by quoting Mark Twain: "To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know, because I've done it a thousand times."
But when David increased his exercise, he felt how smoking was tearing up his lungs. "That realization," he says, "helped me quit and kept me from restarting."
His weekly regimen is two to three one-hour gym workouts plus jogging. David uses his white cane to alert him to objects on his four-mile jogging route.
If each of us could see staying fit through David's internal vision, our own self-care sights might become a bit clearer.
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