No Braces, No Canes

Bob Weisman PhotoTwo years ago he had a detached vertebra, followed by a spinal rupture that required surgery. The latest was drop foot, a form of neuropathy. He was told that he would have to wear leg braces and use two canes for the rest of his life.

Bob, who’d never had time for exercise, decided two and a half years ago that he was going to make time for it. He met with a trainer at our fitness center in SW Florida and started a serious exercise program. He goes to the gym here or in Massachusetts three or four times a week and does an hour of serious strength training and stretching. He does three sets of ten reps each of a series of exercises using heavy weights. He also does exercises at home on the other days.

Bob said, “The combination of strength training and stretching has dramatically changed my ability to lead a full life, including playing golf. I’ve made some swing adjustments due to my back but otherwise I play the same as always.”

Bob said that it helps him to use a trainer every time he goes to the gym. It’s his way of being sure he shows up; he has an appointment. What about the braces and canes? Contrary to the prediction of two doctors, he has no need for them.

I wondered whether the exercise had also improved his blood glucose levels. Bob said: “As you might expect, I respond to challenges with gusto. Blood glucose levels are measured by an “A1C” test. An A1C value of 6.5 or greater is used for the diagnosis of diabetes. When I was diagnosed, my A1C value was 12.1. That diagnosis was another impetus to begin my exercise regimen and it also brought about a major change in dietary habits. Three months later my A1C was 5.7; my endocrinologist said that he had never seen that sharp a drop in so short a time. It’s never risen as high as 6.5 since.”

In terms of motivation, exercise has moved from extrinsic — something he does because it’s good for him — to intrinsic — something he does because he enjoys it. Having witnessed what exercise did for her husband, Bob’s wife Janet has joined the team and she now goes to the gym regularly as well.

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