When it comes to motivation, fitness expert Karl Knopf, Ed.D., knows what it takes to get people moving.
As a professor of adaptive fitness at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and a specialist in fitness for older adults, Knopf's goal is to empower adults 50 and older to take the necessary steps to preserve and improve their health through action and positive thinking.
At a recent senior-living seminar at The Forum Retirement Community in Cupertino, Knopf told attendees that "wellness is a journey, not a destination."
"Being healthy is not just the absence of disease, it's the ability to function fully - mentally, physically and emotionally," Knopf said. "Some people are afraid to age, but that's a privilege, a celebration. I encourage you to grow well, not old."
Knowing that sound nutrition, proper exercise and following doctors' orders contribute to healthful behavior doesn't always translate into action.
"The distance from our toes to our brain is sometimes a very long way," Knopf said. He doesn't like to use the term "exercise" because he believes it scares people away from being physically active.
"Exercise is often equated to a timed, structured activity like five pushups and 10 jumping jacks. Too often we neglect the fun of fitness, the social aspect, the idea of movement for the pure joy of moving," Knopf said.
"It doesn't have to be vigorous to be beneficial. Walking at a slow pace out to Deer Hollow Farm is a good way to be physically active. The key to good health is mild to moderate physical activity," he added.
Finding the time to devote to exercise can be difficult, but Knopf encouraged people to find 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. Physical activity can be as simple as vacuuming or washing the car.
"You lose 100 percent of the opportunities you don't take. Don't be a bystander in your own health. Don't miss an opportunity to be healthy and fit, because what you do today will determine how you age tomorrow," Knopf told the group.
Motivation is essential, said Knopf, who related several more aphorisms and good ideas about how to get started.
One of his favorite quotes paraphrased a Jewish saying, "If not now, when?"
"Too many people sit in front of the television watching football, golf or other sports and never seem motivated to participate," Knopf said.
"You know how fitness professionals always advise people to check with their physicians before embarking on an exercise program? Well, I say, before you go out and buy that big screen TV or a brand new computer, ask your doctor whether you are healthy enough to sit in front of it for six to eight hours a day."
Believing that successful living lies in healthful choices, Knopf has developed a new guideline called the "15 minute rule" that applies to another of his favorite sayings, "The path to poor health is paved with good intentions."
"If you want a chocolate bar, say to yourself that you can have it in 15 minutes. Most often people get distracted and realize they didn't need it," Knopf said. "If you don't feel like going to the gym, put on your shoes and say you'll go for just 15 minutes."
Studies show that 60 percent of American adults don't get the recommended amount of daily exercise and that 25 percent are totally sedentary. Knopf recommends a combination of physical activity, weight training and stretching.
"The first few steps are the hardest, just like a little baby beginning to walk. It's going to be awkward, but bodies are designed to move. Get out there," Knopf said. "It's never too late to feel great."
Known as "Dr. Karl" to many of the residents at The Forum, where he serves as a fitness consultant, personal trainer and aqua aerobics instructor, Knopf is also a consultant for the PBS Sit & Be Fit TV show and is a regular on KGO radio with Joanie Greggains.
He has written several books, including "Weights for 50+" (Ulysses Press, 2005) and "Stretching for 50+" (Ulysses Press, 2004).
For more information about fitness or senior living seminars at The Forum, call 944-0135 or visit www.theforum-seniorliving.com.