I had the pleasure of meeting the engaging 98 year old Mavis at my friend’s house.
She told charming stories with vivid detail of her childhood in French Quebec, and of her adventure-filled career as a professional coloratura soprano.
She allowed me to interview her about her current morning routine. I share it here as an inspiration for us all, and created the following reverse acronym in her honor.
Muscle Activation Via In-bed Stretching.
An interview with Mavis, age 98
Morning exercise to me is the most important thing in my life. Making myself do it becomes a plus because I hate to get up in the morning, so this is a good reason for staying in bed a little longer.
I had fallen in Canada where they said, “Go to your doctor and tell him that you’re too old for us to do anything here.” So I came back to the U.S. where my doctor sent me to an excellent physical therapist. He was wonderful, and he’s the one that gave me these exercises to do. He said don’t miss one, and don’t get out of your bed until you do them. I haven’t.
What are those exercises? Well if it’s cold, and I like to sleep in a cold room, I pull the covers off of half of my body, lengthwise. I put my foot out, and wiggle a toe to see if it’s warm enough to stay out. Then it’s up to the chest with my knee and then up to the ceiling with my leg, and back down again. I do that stretch up to 25 times on each leg. I have also added something else because sometimes I find when I do the second leg the same way I get a little stiff, so here I do something for my ankle at the same time. I twist my ankle to the left and to the right. By then I’m tired, and he said I could rest in between, so I do. By that time I can let the covers off the other leg and test the temperature, and do the same thing again on the right side.
I usually start with my left leg. I don’t know why. I think it’s because I sleep on my right side and so when I turn over flat on my back that left one seems to have priority.
Now for the upper part of your body, your arms, your chest, you need to get some deep breathing in. I used to be a singer and know how to deep breathe, so that wasn’t a problem. But to do it while you’re doing your exercise, that’s more complicated. First of all, I tried panting, but that didn’t work, because it was too short. So I do the deep breathing where you use your abdominal muscles. Deep breathing does it for me. Our French voice teacher used to say, you don’t have to gulp a whole bunch of air, that doesn’t do you any good. She always told us, “ You need enough breath taken in to blow a rose petal off your hand.”
The upper part of your body needs as much exercise as your legs do. So here’s what you do.
Lying in bed, you put your arms at your side. Your raise them up above your head and then bring them down hard with elbows bent, and then stretch them back up. When you pull them down you have to press strong, so ladies with long fingernails, you better watch it. You’re squeezing your hands so you’re getting limber fingers.
Now this is something I added myself because I found it on PBS from a lady who was giving a lecture on exercise. She had everyone in the audience stand up and shake their whole body.
For those who are well developed, what she did next sometimes is a little complicated. What you have to do, while you’re lying on your back, is straighten both arms out wide and then cross them across your chest. Then open and cross them again several times.
And finally, after all this you get tired, so you put one leg out on the side of the bed and then you drag the other one out, so you’re sitting. Then as you sit you kick as hard as you can and as high as you can, up and down.
And then, you can reach for your cane and stand up!
And that’s It!
Muscle Activation Via In-bed Stretching – MAVIS