A 68-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease has defied all conventional medical wisdom by climbing the same mountain every day for the last fifty years.
According to his interview with The Guardian, Sion Jair estimates that he has climbed the Old Man of Coniston in Cumbria, England at least 5,000 times. Sometimes he climbs to the summit twice in one day, no matter the season.
Though he has kept up his fitness routine for the sake of familiarity and habit, he also says that he has kept up the routine as a matter of health and discipline. In addition to living with chronic fatigue syndrome since he moved to the area in 1968, he was also diagnosed with pernicious anaemia in the 2000s. His body rejected the B12 injection treatment necessary to moderate the disease and doctors gave him three years to live.
“My body had adjusted to the small amount of B12 I could accept,” Jair tells The Guardian. “The doctors did tests and put it down to – although it’s not scientifically proven – my exercise routine. I just kept going and my body had two choices: I could either sit down and die, or the body had to get up and use what it had.”
Though he was able to adjust to the anaemia, the condition had hidden the Alzheimer’s that was developing in his brain until a brain scan finally revealed the disease four years ago.
Jair’s solution? Just keep on hiking up the 2,634-foot (803 meters) mountain. And judging by his disposition – along with this recent study that supports exercise as a means of staving off dementia – his fitness routine is definitely helping.
“I got over this business of going up a mountain for a challenge years ago. I just do it because I enjoy it. I do it because it’s familiar, and particularly when you’ve got Alzheimer’s, you need something that’s familiar,” Jair tells the news outlet.
“All I know is that I’m not getting any better, but I don’t think I’m getting that much worse that quickly,” he adds.
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