My mother had this great idea: “Come with me to senior exercise class,” she said one morning while I was visiting her. “All the other mothers will be SO glad to see you. We’ll have such fun!” She was very excited, so I smiled and agreed.
Three of the women waiting in the main room of the community center were the mothers of my friends from high school, and they were all in their seventies at this point. The other six women in the group were in their eighties. (This was twenty-five years ago, when my mother was seventy-three, long before she had dementia.)
The group “leader” was almost eighty; she used a cane to walk over and welcome me with a warm smile…and ask if I had my doctor’s permission to participate in their exercise class. I was pretty sure my doctor would approve…the most strenuous activity was “The Hokey Pokey.”
You put your right foot in…you take your right foot out…you put your right foot in, and shake it all about.
Then you do the same with your left foot, then your right arm, then your left arm. And for the grand finale: You put your whole self in…you put your whole self out…you put your whole self in, and shake it all about. Everyone sang along with a loud recording of The Hokey Pokey song.
At the end of the forty-five minutes of stretches followed by hand waving and foot stomping, we concluded by marching in place, then holding onto chairs for balance while swinging our legs (one at a time) and tapping our feet until we were “glowing”—ladies didn’t sweat then, they glowed—from all the exercise.
Afterward, in the spirit of camaraderie for surviving The Hokey Pokey, we filled my car with other “glowing” seniors and went for donuts and conversation at Daylight Donuts. Some even splurged and had a cup of hot cocoa, too, with whipped cream! These ladies really knew how to have a good time.
August 6th is “Wiggle Your Toes Day.” All of the exercises above can be adjusted to include toe wiggling, or you can do my current favorite foot exercise, “The Alphabet Exercise.” Lie on a mat or sit in a chair and stretch out your legs. Point the toes of both feet and simultaneously “draw” the letters of the alphabet, A-to-Z. And if you’re ambitious, do it again to really get those toes, feet and ankles going.
Do this on August 7th and 8th, too, for Happy Feet. If it wears you out, August 9th is Book Lover’s Day to relax and curl up with a good book, and August 10th is Lazy Day. Donuts are optional.