In the wake of the passing of Nelson Mandela many people will remember that he was the first Black President of South Africa, others will remember that he won a Nobel Peace Prize while most people will remember that he spent 27 years of a life sentence in prison for fighting against the apartheid policies of the South African Government. I will remember all of those things about the man. One of the tidbits about his life that will stand out for me was a comment made by Ahmed Kathrada, a noted anti-apartheid activist who served alongside Mr. Mandela while in prison on Robben Island. During a memorial service Mr. Kathrada indicated that many of the men he and Mr. Mandela served with in prison smoked cigarettes and failed to take care of their physical well-being by not exercising. He recalled that Mr. Mandela was a tall, strong and healthy man. Before prison, he had been a boxer but while in prison he stretched and exercised every morning.
Mandela was a prisoner who easily wielded the pick and shovel to break rocks and stone when others couldn't do so. Looking at hard labor for many years Nelson Mandela had the discipline to stretch and exercise every morning even in a very small prison cell. Many of those men who smoked and didn’t exercise suffered from many debilitating ailments and died early deaths. Could exercise have been a reason for Mr. Mandela’s longevity to reach the age of 95? Possibly or at least I would like to think that would be the case.
As we enter a New Year, as always I will take time to look back at the last 12 months and reflect on loved ones, family members, friends and people of influence we all know who did not make it to this New Year of 2014. I will then look forward. With another New Year comes the tradition of making resolutions in hopes of being better individuals and improving our lives by doing things like shedding excess weight or reducing bad habits starting over or starting fresh with a brand new 365 day to work with.
We all do this to some degree or another resolving to do better especially in regard to our healthcare. As I remember Nelson Mandela there will be many aspects of his life that will influence me to be more forgiving of people who may have wronged me in some way but more importantly his legacy will encourage me to follow his example to stretch and exercise every morning regardless of where I am or how busy I get to benefit my health. I may not live to the age of 95 years old as Mr. Mandela but I hope to live a healthy quality of life for the time I have remaining.
Happy New Year!!!