On My Mind – Exercise & the Aging Process

by Mel Zuckerman, Canyon Ranch Co-Founder

"The only constant is change.” I love that saying because it’s so true – and it’s something we all need to keep in mind as we move through life.

Here’s a fact: My exercise routine, at age 83, is different than it was 30 years ago, 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago – I’m not jogging five days a week and I don’t do long hikes anymore. Very depressing, right? Not so fast. My ability to use oxygen and my heart capacity are actually better today than they were when I was out hiking six or seven miles in a day. Why? Because even though my routine has changed with time, I continue to do some form of exercise or movement five days a week, and I put real effort into it. And I’ve incorporated interval training into what I do, which has enabled me to actually improve my cardiovascular fitness, which, in turn, helps keep my brain healthy. The research on this gets stronger all the time: Physical fitness and cognitive health go hand in hand.

Here’s another fact: Enid is in the best shape of her life – working out longer and harder and lifting more weight than she ever has.

I’m not just saying all this to brag – although I do enjoy bragging about Enid – but to make an important point. Fitness is an ever-moving target as we move through time, and not being able to do what we did when we were younger is no reason to give up. Just the opposite. As the decades pass, healthy living – especially regular exercise – becomes ever more important, and results in even more significant pay-offs.

So when I hear people say, “Oh, I don’t come to Canyon Ranch anymore because my body can’t take it,” I just shake my head and think, “They just don’t get it – now is when they need this place the most.” Those moments at which people feel time is catching up with them are potential turning points toward better health and a longer, more enjoyable future.

As a 90-year-old friend (and Canyon Ranch regular) recently said to me, “Remember, we don’t have to live down to the expectations for the elderly.” No matter what your age, don’t “live down” to anyone’s expectations – and do keep moving!

Canyon Ranch Smoking Policy

People sometimes ask me about our smoking policy at the resorts. Allow me to explain.

Some people are surprised that we’re not totally smoke-free. Why is smoking allowed at the purest, most health-focused property anywhere, a place whose very founding was triggered by the death of my father, a long-time smoker, from lung cancer?

Here’s why: Canyon Ranch is about behavioral change, and people come here because there are areas of their lives that need improvement. People who happen to smoke – a fairly small percentage of the adult population, at this point – may very much need to focus on other aspects of their lives. Or they may come here hoping to quit, but may not succeed immediately. We’re not going to exclude any person who wants to come to Canyon Ranch.

Of course we want people to quit, and we offer a range of supportive services and programs to help them – including a complimentary Smoking Cessation consultation for any smoker who is interested. But our goal is to welcome everyone who desires a healthier way of living. From the very beginning, our practice has been to meet our guests where they’re at.

We’ve worked very hard to keep our rooms and public areas free from smoke. And while we used to allow guests to smoke on the patio outside their rooms, we became aware of the need to protect our other guests and employees even better from secondhand smoke. So now we’ve established designated outdoor, out-of-the-way smoking areas – maps are available at the Front Desk.

I hope that you understand, and share my hope for a smoke-free world.