Will I be able to exercise until I die?


Today a man at the gym got on the treadmill next to mine and told me I had never answered his question of a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t remember him asking me a question or ever even speaking to me before, so I asked him to repeat it. What he wanted to know was how long are we going to keep up on all this exercise, and without missing a beat, I said until we die. He made a face, so I suspect he didn’t like my answer, but that’s the way I feel. I’ll certainly do it as long as I can. I ended the conversation by saying we can support each other as when we see each other at the gym since we’re both there every day. I asked him his age – seventy-six – and when he told me I exclaimed that I was older much to his surprise. And then we introduced ourselves. He’s the second Mike I’ve seen and said hello to for years at the gymIt’s nice to know their names after all this time.

Even though I say I plan to exercise for the rest of my life, I have to admit it’s getting harder and harder – especially now that I have sciatica in left leg. I went to the orthopedic doctor about a month ago about it, and after looking at the x-ray of my back he blamed the pain I’m currently having on my scoliosis. In other words my spine is curved – and it’s pretty bad. According to the doctor as I get older it will only get worse. He called that condition degenerative scoliosis. That was definitely not something I wanted to hear since I’ve bragged for years that I suffer no pain – probably as a result of my long-time exercise program – even at my age. And his best suggestion was to see a surgeon.

My first thought was that will never happen. I don’t want to subject my back to surgery – ever! However, I succumbed and finally made an appointment – for this coming week. When I told this story to my Pilates instructor her one instruction was don’t let him put any pins in my spine. It needs to stay flexible. She doesn’t have to convince me of that. My sister-in-law has had three back surgeries and she is extremely stiff and still with pain. Just the thought of back surgery scares me.

So if you have any back surgery success stories to share, I sure would like to know about them. Please post them in the comments boxes below. And I will forever thank you.


  1. Doug Hicks says

    Oh, Madeline, please consider Feldenkrais first.
    Where yoga, for example, builds strength, what we need now is freedom of movement. And that is an issue with how to move efficiently, not strength or force of will..
    I became strong enough working out to push through the reps. At the end, though, that is probably what left me unable to get out of bed.
    I’ve been practicing Feldenkrais for 5 years now. I walk, like you, every day. I do so pain -free; some days it’s like a dance. I also do a one-on-one session every week and at least one class a week.
    I do Feldenkrais because my body *is* aging and balance and efficiency of movement is paramount.
    Feldenkrais is worth looking into. Did I mention it’s fun? And Moshe Feldenkrais was an amazing man.
    There. I just did.

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