Project Body Smart | Feel Like Quitting?


Feel Like Quitting?

Betty Franks, 83, Shows the Power of Sticking with Fitness — No Matter What

You can’t stop Betty Franks. No matter what challenges life throws at her, the resilient 83-year-old keeps on exercising.

For example, she battled cancer — and won. Then she was hospitalized after being hit by a van — and bounced back.

And this year, Betty faced another new challenge that could have derailed her – but didn’t. She had to fight her way back after a mysterious leg and hip pain, and she has returned as resolute as ever.

“I don’t even want to think about something so awful that I couldn’t keep exercising,” Betty says. “I will go on as long as I can.”

Betty’s story is a great example of the power of sticking with exercise, even when it can be tempting just to give up.

First, It Has to Be Fun

Betty says it’s super-important that exercising be fun. Yes, the health benefits are great – but if you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re far less likely to stick with it.

That was part of what kept her exercising with her trainer a few years ago after a devastating accident. Betty was walking to her gym, as she did twice a week when she was struck by a fast-moving vehicle. She suffered severe injuries and was hospitalized – and when she went home, she didn’t want to risk making that walk again. So, her trainer started coming to where Betty lives, in a retirement community, and started working out with her there twice a week.

But earlier this year, pain in her hip and leg became so intense, Betty struggled merely to stand up.

“It was terrible,” says Betty. “People would say, ‘What’s happened? This is not you.’ I didn’t know what to do about it. I listened to doctors. Went to a pain clinic, had X-rays, and MRIs before finally having cortisone injections.”

When she was able to resume working out, she started at just once a week for half an hour, rather than twice a week for an hour.

Trainer Robert Haddocks focused mostly on stretching and core work.

Now, Betty’s back to her old schedule and has even asked Robert to squeeze her in three times a week.

“Betty has more drive and enthusiasm than most of my clients,” Robert says. “I have a wide range of clients, from high school athletes, aspiring bodybuilders and even a former NFL player. But Betty easily is my most phenomenal client.”
Almost Back to Her ‘Normal’

Betty estimates that she’s about 85 percent back to normal. For her, that means:

  • Bending over (with legs straight) and easily placing her palms flat on the floor
  • Performing chest presses with 30-pound dumbbells for several reps
  • Doing sumo squats with a 65-pound dumbbell.

Robert says she’s stronger and more flexible than most women half of her age. 

Why does Betty keep going? Simple.

“Exercise makes me feel better,” she says. “I just feel better, which is, of course, an indication that I should do it more. I’m thankful I have a trainer, because I can be dragging when I go to see him, but when I leave, I feel a whole lot better.” 

Betty’s advice about working out is simple.

 “If you haven’t started, start. And if you have started,” she says, “don’t stop.” 

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