Age 80 - Columbus, Mississippi
Regular Walks Help this Mississippi Dialysis Patient Stay Fit
When she was younger, Mary Blackburn took aerobics classes and bowled in a league. But now that she’s 80 and requires dialysis treatments three times a week, the Columbus, Miss., retiree enjoys walking five days a week for exercise.
Born in pre-World War II England, Mary came to the U.S. as a young woman after marrying an American serviceman. She settled in Columbus, Miss., where she had a long career working at the nearby Air Force base. She retired 10 years ago, which gave her more time to spend with her children and grandchildren.
Today, she has a busy schedule that also includes volunteering at the local hospital and making baskets with a group of British women expatriates. Plus, she walks at least five days a week, usually three to four miles at a stretch.
Mary rises early to beat the sweltering Mississippi heat. Sometimes she follows the Columbus Riverwalk trail, which meanders for two miles along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. If the weather does not cooperate, she walks inside the local shopping mall, or at Baptist Memorial Hospital, which has an indoor track that’s gentler on her ankles.
Mary, who started dialysis two years ago, says regular exercise helps her stay fit and control her weight, while improving her overall outlook. “The more active I am, the better I feel,” she says. Fresenius Medical Care recently named her a Champion in Motion for her commitment to exercise to help her live a better life on dialysis.
For those just starting treatment, she advises paying close attention to the instructions of their dialysis care team. “Just do what they tell you,” she says. “That’s important if you want to have a good treatment and feel your best the next day.”