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Living proof: exercise promotes wellness

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By Michele Roberts

The belief that regular exercise can help prolong life and contribute to overall wellness is widely accepted among all age groups.

Lancaster resident Joyce Deese has been putting that theory to the test as an exercise instructor for the past 25 years. Now at the age of 67, Deese is still going strong.

“Exercise is a commitment to your body, a way of life,” Deese said. “It’s something you have to be serious about or you won’t see any results.

What you eat matters; it’s not just about dieting.

“But dieting is also a commitment,” she said. “You need to really think about what you’re eating, when you’re eating it and why you want to exercise. If you answer those three questions honestly, then you will have a plan that you can begin to work with.”

Deese said when you exercise, not only will you look better, you will feel better and when you feel better, you will be motivated to do even more.

“One of the problems is when people start feeling bad, the first thing they want to do is run to the doctor or start taking some kind of medicine,” she said. “And that’s definitely not always the answer. Many times, the answer is as simple as regular exercise, and sometimes, it’s a matter of pressing through the times of not feeling good and letting the natural byproducts of exercise, like the endorphins that are released, do their work to get you feeling better.”

Deese said despite personal health issues, she’s been able to press on and continue her exercise regiment, which she knows will be better for her in the long run.

“I have fibromyalgia, and anyone who has dealt with it will tell you it’s a truly painful thing,” she said. “Even in my situation, no matter how hard I try to press through, there are times when I realize that it’s coming on too strong and it’s going to have to run its course. When that happens, I have to take it easy and ride it out, and just as soon as I am able I’m right back at it again.”

For older people, exercise is doubly important because of a major benefit it provides to aging bones.

“One of the best exercises you can do is low-impact body sculpting,” she said. “The fundamentals involved in that type of exercise help with the loss of bone density as we age. That’s why I really want to encourage seniors to get up and get motivated.”

Deese said one should never underestimate the healthy benefits of even the simplest forms of exercise.

“You would be surprised at how much good a common folding chair and a child’s plastic play ball can do for someone with arthritis,” she said. “It’s an easy way for seniors to get their joints moving and allow them to sit down at the same time, if they’re a little unsteady on their feet.”

For the past 13 years, Deese has been teaching morning exercises classes at Camp Creek Baptist Church. Deese said for her, the opportunity to share her knowledge of health and exercise with anyone interested is a way to give back to the community.

“I really enjoy doing this, and I want my ladies to see they can do anything they put their mind to,” Deese said. “I’ve got ladies from all walks of life in those classes, and the fellowship that comes from it is a great motivational factor. The best motivation I receive as an instructor is to see them achieving good results.”

Deese said she uses various exercise disciplines in her classes to maximize those results.

“I do use the low-impact body sculpting, along with yoga, Pilates and kickboxing,” she said. “It’s like having the best of all worlds, to do it that way. I had one of my ladies tell me that she thought she was in better shape now than she was when she graduated high school, and she’s got grandchildren now. I feel the same way, and that’s why I believe that regular exercise is so important. There’s no substitute to the good feeling you get from it.”

Deese has been married to her husband, Pete Deese Sr. for 50 years and has a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.

Deese said the entire family loves being outdoors and she is glad that is the case.

“Fresh air and exercise are two of the best things a person can have,” she said. “And I’m thankful that my family feels the same way.”