Wind up the clock again
TO FEEL YOUR BEST and reap the most, exercise must be maintained as long as life is maintained.

Bonnie Prudden’s first opportunity to work with older people came in 1956 when Harper and Row published her first book Is Your Child Really Fit?, and the ladies at the Osborne Home for Retired Gentlewomen invited her to talk about it. Bonnie was 43 at the time and when she entered the auditorium and looked around she only saw white heads. At that point she changed the topic to You Are the Last Naturally Fit Americans, and then told them why.

At the end of the lecture one little lady stood up and asked “Are we too old to exercise?”

“Certainly not”, said Bonnie.

“Well then,” she asked, “will you teach a class?”

“Yes’ said Bonnie. The little lady then told Bonnie that she would call her in a few days to tell her how many would be in the class. And she did.

Luckily or unluckily, depending on how you look at things, Bonnie knew all about “old.”

At 21 she had had a ski accident and fractured her pelvis in 4 places. After having been strung up in traction for three months she was weak, trembly and had very little balance or stamina.

“I was twenty-two, looked sixty-two, and felt ninety-two. Where do you begin the road back when you have aged sixty-odd years in three months? You begin as though you had aged in the acceptable fashion over a period of many decades. You start easy and progress at your own comfortable speed.”

One day the nurse put on a record and Bonnie started tapping out a rhythm with her feet. Pretty soon she was sitting in a chair and choreographing foot and leg routines, adding shoulders and arms. It all felt wonderful and she began to set aside the dire predictions of “you’ll always limp, you’ll never ski or climb again” and started rehabbing herself first on the side of the bed and then in a chair. Soon she went to Florida and completed her rehab in the surf.

As a result, when the ladies called to tell her there would be 30 ladies, Bonnie was ready. They started in chairs… graduated to standing behind the chairs… then in front of the chairs. She found ways to use a chair that no one had thought of before.

So whether you are eighty and feel it or 25 and feel 80 here, are some exercises you can use to get started.

Exercises: The Arm Chair Ballet

Sit in a good, solid chair with strong arms. Use music to keep your work rhythmical and fun.

Knee to noseKnee to Nose: Lift first the right knee to the nose and then the left. Repeat 8 times on each side.


Knee crossKnee Cross: Cross first right knee over left. Then left over right. As you grow stronger and more limber, sit back in the chair and lift the knees higher and higher as you cross them. 8 crosses on each leg equals one set.


Toes in toes outToes In / Toes Out: Take your shoes off. Sit with feet about one foot apart. Keep heels on the floor and turn both feet inward, then outward. Repeat 20 times.


Heel raisesHeel Raises: Place feet side by side with heels pushed under your chair so that your legs bend at the ankle. If the seat is too high to permit the heels to touch, sit forward toward the edge. Raise heels keeping the balls and toes of your feet on the floor. Lower. After 10 raises with both feet, alternate with first one and then the other for 10 each.

Arm liftsArm Lifts: Place hands on the arms of your chair and raise your seat; lower slowly. If it is too hard to raise yourself, start at the top with straight arms and seat off the chair – now lower slowly. Start with 2 and add 1 a week until you are doing 10. As soon as possible, raise your feet from the floor.


Knee bendsKnee Bends: Place hands on a table for support. Do 8 half knee bends. Go lower as strength improves until you are doing 8 full knee bends.

More information can be found in Pain Erasure and Bonnie Prudden: After Fifty Fitness Guide.


For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.

Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®