Art of Aging: Making exercise a habit for success

Bryn Mawr, Pa. -- Many people jump into a fitness program but fall out of the routine a few weeks or months later.

Making exercise a habit is the key to success, and one local health system is keeping patients on the right track.

For seven or eight years, Walt Lee had been dealing with chronic neck and back pain.

He'd gone off painkillers, which didn't help much but wasn't sure what to do next.

His new doctor, Dr. Bernard King, gave him a prescription to enroll in the Healthy Habits program at Main Line Health Fitness and Wellness Center in Concordville.

"It's not so much an exercise for performance, it's an exercise program designed for health benefits," said Dr. King of Main Line Health.

Arthritis and disc degeneration in his back and neck had caused Lee to become more sedentary.

And that's a threat to overall health.

Dr. King said, "The goals were to modify his risk factors, things that would cause him long-term illnesses in years to come."

Healthy Habits is a 24-session program.

"It was two nights a week with the same trainer. To get that kind of personal attention two hours a week was phenomenal," added Lee.

Lee said it helped him get over the intimidation of getting active again.

And trainers customize the exercise plan to the patient.

"If it's a patient with bad knees, we can certainly adjust for that diagnosis. If it's hips, we can adjust for that diagnosis as well. Obesity, also can be adjusted," said Dr. King.

Lee says the one-on-one training also kept him motivated.

He has more energy, sleeps better, and has less back pain.

"I was able to breathe. I was able to breathe, I was able to run on the treadmill, which was amazing for me," said Lee.

Exercise is now a habit, in fact, he was anxious to get back to it after recent shoulder surgery.

His wife is joining the fitness center, so they can exercise together.

"I think that gives it a better shot at being successful in the long term," said Lee.

Dr. King added, "We want people to be moving, so they can use this equipment that we have been given, and use it to the best of their ability."

Healthy Habits isn't just for seniors, but also for younger adults. And there is also a Healthy Habits Junior Program for younger ones needing weight management guidance.