Ricky Banks is a walking advertisement for fitness over 50 – which makes sense, because he owns a successful gym and turned 57 this year.
But it’s true now more than ever after a near-fatal medical emergency this year. Doctors and Ricky believe his healthy lifestyle helped him survive the loss of blood, the surgery, and the medically induced coma of his ordeal.
“The doctor said my health level, my fitness level, had a lot to do with my survival and recovery – my heart rate, my blood pressure, not being obese,” Ricky recalls. “I do believe that played a major role in it.”
Ricky’s right. And anyone over 50 should take this as another reason why you need to stay in good physical condition by exercising and eating right.
Being fit improves your chances of surviving health scares and complications that are common after age 50 or so. If you want to bounce back from surgery – or avoid complications from a wicked virus, like Covid-19 – your chances go up exponentially if you stay at a healthy weight, keep your blood pressure where it should be, eat right, and exercise.
A Simple Way of Putting It
You don’t have to be as muscular as Ricky for these benefits to help you before, during, and after surgery or other medical challenges, even one as unexpected as what happened to him. The same is true for more common over-50 procedures like joint replacements.
“Better fitness levels reduce complications when having an operation,” as just one medical organization, the National Health Service of Scotland, explains. “This is because your body can cope better with the stress of the operation. In turn, this improves your chances of avoiding complications; allowing you to leave the hospital and return to your normal quality of life more quickly.
“Keeping an active lifestyle is good for your general health and if you are normally an active person, it is important to keep that up before your operation.
“People who have low activity levels can improve their fitness within as little as four weeks by taking regular exercise.”
Ricky’s amazing story
Ricky woke up distressed at about 2 a.m., passed blood in his urine, and was rushed to a hospital, passing out before he arrived.
His old problem of bleeding ulcers had returned with a vengeance. Doctors used more than 2 dozen pints of blood and put him into a coma to find the source of the bleeding and stop it.
They gave Ricky 50-50 odds of surviving.
But because of Ricky’s heart health, his weight, and his fitness level, he pulled through.
Now, four months later, Rickey is back in good health, preparing to open a second location of his gym, and grateful that his latest chapter is proving inspirational for others.
“People say, ‘Ricky, you look like you haven’t been through anything,’” he says. “This has made me appreciate my body and how I take care of it. I tell people, ‘I understand, you’ve got to live your life. But be responsible.’”
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.