There is hardly anybody in the medical community, from specialists to linen changers, who will not tell you that exercise in any form by elderly people will make them feel better, look better, improve their sex life and eventually attract the attention of Kim Kardashian.
Before you know it, they will say, you will be out there night-clubbing and waving off the paparazzi who will follow you to hell and back just to get a shot of your flattened abs or your tight and tiny butt.
I personally, at age 83, have been exercising only a short while and the trade papers are already mentioning me for a leading role in the next Quentin Tarantino romantic comedy. I would be the old has-been gun-fighter who gets his mojo back by doing push-ups.
Physical fitness for seniors is the mantra of the day by those who believe it will not only benefit you on a cosmetic level but also extend your lifespan and animate your erotic fantasies as well. The degrees of difficulty offered by the therapists range from sitting on a chair and raising one leg at a time to scaling the south face of Mt. Everest without oxygen.
My pulmonologist, who is treating me for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), had me sign up with one therapeutic clinic that began its treatment by having me don an inflatable vest that applied pressure on the lungs to loosen the phlegm. All I had to do was sit there and let it periodically inflate and deflate. Sometimes I would doze.
But then they began applying the old no-pain-no-gain theory and ramped up the pain part. I was very soon pumping a stationary bike, rushing up and down specially-constructed exercise stairs, and running to keep up with the speed of a horizontal treadmill the way squirrels race madly in circular treadmills, going nowhere at high speed.
I remained in therapy until one day I limped and puffed my way to a friend’s house after a session on the treadmill. He said, “Man, you look awful!” I decided right then and there that if something made me both look and feel awful, it wasn’t serving its purpose. I never went back.
Thereafter I turned down bicycling, ice skating, jogging, mall walking, weight lifting and even dance therapy, although my wife, the clever Cinelli, regarded my version of it as shuffling rather than dancing when I attempted to demonstrate how it worked.
The only therapy I am engaging in now is martini therapy, which involves a lightweight glass, a little vodka and a whisper of vermouth. Hold the olives for now. No sense in taking on too much.