It’s Never too Late to Become Fit and Healthy

By on July 14, 2014
Nancy Burnham lifting weights

By Nancy Burnham –

The human body is a marvelous and mysterious thing.  At 67, looking back at what I learned so late in life, my appreciation for body chemistry grows more and more every day.  When I retired at age 60 my health was typical of those who care for others, not themselves, carry stress with them all the time (and in my case) have a fondness for bread and sweets.

  • At 49 my hands required treatment for osteoarthritis.
  • At 56 my right knee locked up necessitating 6 months of physical therapy.
  • At 58 I needed foot surgery for bunions.
  • At 60 my diagnoses were asthma/low level COPD with high blood pressure, pro-lapsing heart valves, high cholesterol, depression and anxiety.

Instead of looking forward to a carefree retirement, I was spending time in doctors’ offices and taking prescription medications. Honestly wanting to feel better but not knowing where to turn, life seemed short.

Nancy Burnham - Before

Nancy Burnham – Before

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With tendonitis in my left shoulder, constant pain in my lower back, a “widow’s hump” developing, and 30 pounds overweight, I knew that I must take control of my health care.

When I walked into the new neighborhood gym I requested a personal trainer because I knew I needed professional help to exercise correctly.  As I sat across from the trainer, a total stranger, explaining my many issues, I felt vulnerable, inadequate, stupid, overwhelmed and frightened.  He was asking all the right questions.  “I can help you,” he said.

That was the beginning of my marvelous journey to recovery; a journey fraught with tears, fears, joys, pain, anger, and frustration that culminated in my own desire to help others who were out there looking for answers.  Total strangers who observed me during training (sometimes at my worst) would come up to me and tell me I inspired them.  What an uplifting surprise!

When we eat right and exercise the body makes wonderful chemical adjustments that we do not see at the time.  As my body transitioned my blood pressure dropped, my cardiovascular systems improved and the weight fell off as fat transformed into muscle.   After 12 months I was off of all but one medication – cholesterol.  That, too, came under control.

Each person must start their journey at their level.  Keep a goal in mind and move forward with determination to meet that goal.

My aging process has given me challenges with two broken ankles, torn muscles and ligaments, and knee surgery.   Instead of looking at these and other bumps on life’s road as obstacles leading to a sedentary state, they instead are opportunities to learn more about how to train muscles that support the injured areas.  Do not accept the status of ‘aging’ as one of ‘slowing down’ but instead as a new adventure.

Try weightlifting to improve muscles tone, overall strength and bone density.   Proper form when using dumbbells, Kettlebells and/or barbells might be a new exercise adventure, it will certainly pay off so don’t be afraid to try them.   Find a certified personal trainer that you are comfortable with, explain your challenges and goals to them.  You, too, may inspire someone else.


Nancy Burnham’s journey to health began at age 61, when she stepped into a gym for the first time in her life. After years working at a desk, Nancy was spending her retirement drowning in ailments – from two pro-lapsing heart valves to arthritis and low-level cardiopulmonary disease. After deciding one day she simply wouldn’t accept the status quo, Nancy went from not even being able to operate a treadmill to completing a Warrior Dash. At 65, she earned her ACE Personal Trainer Certification and at 66, she hit a personal best by completing a 200-pound dead lift. She now owns Simple Fitness for Seniors in Lilburn, Ga., where she specializes in working with older adults with special conditions including rotator cuff injuries, diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease.

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It’s Never too Late to Become Fit and Healthy