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What is physically fit?

Recently, as I was studying about fitness I read a quote from President John F Kennedy, “The relationship between soundness of the body and the activity of the mind is subtle and complex. Much is not yet understood, but we know what the Greeks knew: that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong, and that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies. Physical fitness is the basis of all activities in our society.”

I thought about the truth to this statement, made over 50 years ago. Then, the passing of Steven Hawking came to my mind. Brilliant mind, brilliant man with a “hardy spirit”. In a wheelchair, even unable to speak. How physically fit was he? Is fitness the ability to move with little to no restrictions?

No, I don’t believe it is. Steven Hawking moved about with a wheelchair, and communication wasn’t considered normal, but it was there. I never saw a picture of that man in bed, unwilling to participate in life. He was dressed, well kept, learned and taught. A death sentence at age 22 with the diagnosis of motor neuron disease did not slow him down, or to just take it easy and coast through what few years he was told he had. He lived to age 76!

A fit person, like Professor Hawking, does the most with what they have for as long as they can.

I love hearing stories of people who have overcome the odds stacked against them. I know two women who can run today. One woman had a birth defect that required reconstruction of her feet. The first time she ran, really ran, for fitness, she started crying. She just let the tears run down her face as she felt the joy of movement without pain. The second woman has asthma. She would run as far as she could before using her inhaler. She kept at it. Today she shows no symptoms of wheezing when she runs. Both case are unique, but both show the “hardy spirit” of people who do what they can. Neither said “running is a challenge I can’t overcome”. One very important note is that both of these women where not told by their personal physician that they could not run.

If your child has a disability, focus on the ability. What can they do and for how long? How can we help to improve mobility and ability? Liesa is responsible for directing and encouraging the first woman in my story to keep going. We all need a Liesa, or just Liesa, in our corner. We all have something to offer and the ability to be fit at our own level of fitness.

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