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Dr. Zorba Paster: Exercise monitors work if they motivate you

Dear Doc: I just wanted you to know your advice impacted my life, positively. While I normally exercise at the Y several days a week, I’m a slug the rest of the time. Thanks to your column on fitness bands, I purchased a Jawbone at the reduced price of $35. I love it.

I now strive for 10,000 steps most days of the week. My mom bought one, too. We challenge each other, which is surprisingly motivating. I am not a competitive person by nature, but somehow competing with my mom has made us both work harder.

We now discuss health. We now both eat healthier than we ever have before. Thank you for your column and your common-sense advice for health care. I’m a fan. – Diane

Dear Diane: Thanks so much for your kind words. You bring up a few great points. Even though you’re not competitive, you may be competitive with yourself or your team member, your mom. The fitness monitors make you accountable.

The Jawbone used to be my favorite, but when I lost mine I bought a Misfit Flash instead. At $20, it was a bargain. I like the way it fits. I like that the charge lasts for six months before you have to change the battery. It’s waterproof so I can use it swimming. And it has a special hook to attach it to my shoelaces, making my time on the elliptical a more accurate count.

My spin: Exercise monitors work if they motivate you.

Dear Doc: I love hearing your familiar and cheerful voice on my public radio station. I listen to you when I return home from teaching tai chi and conditioning for functional movement at the local community college. Your inspiring laugh makes me laugh.

I’m a 56-year-old young person with bulging discs, osteoporosis and spinal bone spurs. I used to ache all over until I started taking tai chi. Your recent advice to a 65-year-old skier was to go to physical therapy and get a trainer, but it didn’t mention this ancient Chinese treatment that works for me.

I teach it. Most of my students are well over 50. Most have osteoarthritis, bone-on-bone issues in their knees and hips. Nearly all have found they move better, sleep sounder and are more confident after they take my three-month course. – C.Y. from Spokane, Wash.

Dear Spokane: I could not have said it better myself. You put everything right out in front. Keep moving, but change according to your age.

Several years ago, a review article in the journal Clinical Rheumatology showed that tai chi was very successful in reducing pain, improving movements we use in our day-to-day lives, and decreasing disability. It also seemed to give people more vitality. I think any exercise that’s appropriate for your age is good exercise.

More than two decades ago, I fractured a vertebrae in my neck trying to beat my oldest son, Zak, down the ski hill. He was 9 and, well, I was old enough to know better. Down I went schussing past him until down I went – kerplunk!

I still have on-and-off pain in my neck from that silly thing I did. If I tried the same stunt at this age, I’d end up in the hospital. My skiing listener would do well to go to a simpler slope at a slower pace rather than quit. Keeping those accidents away is even more important the older you get.

The bottom line for many who read this column is that we aren’t as old as we think we are. Age shouldn’t stop us from doing things, just from doing some things. Keep moving. And stay well.

Find a tai chi class near you at the WNY Refresh Calendar on Page 15. Dr. Zorba Paster is a physician, professor, author and broadcast journalist. He hosts a radio program at 3 p.m. Sundays on WBFO-FM 88.7; email him at zorba@wpr.org.