If you are curious about the connection between regular exercise and healthy aging, you could consult Google, speak with your doctor, or spend an hour with Doris Aron.
If you chat with Doris, you’ll realize in a matter of minutes that physical activity at every age pays off. What takes longer to grasp is the realization that the fit and spry woman you are talking with – Doris – is in her 10th decade!
Doris has been exercising routinely for over 30 years. She started when her late husband asked her to accompany him on his evening walks. As the weather turned raw, the couple sought an indoor alternative. They became members of the local Jewish Community Center and began running around their internal track. Doris has retained her JCC membership through the years.
In her early 60s, Doris discovered that thrill of running. Up until age 88, she ran 4 miles a day around the JCC track. She regularly began having leg pain and decided that it was time to switch from running to walking. She averages 3.5 miles a day at a pace that far exceeds a stroll.
“I’m taking a good walk!”
In recent years, Doris has diversified her routine. She now spends some mornings weight training in the fitness center. Power walking and lifting weights might seem extreme for someone that is 93, but Doris has it under control.
“I don’t do anything crazy. I take care of myself. When I come home from the gym, I even rest a bit before I go on.”
If Doris were her doctor’s only patient, he or she would be very lonely. Unlike many of her peers, Doris only goes to the doctor for routine check-ups. If she were the sole customer at the local pharmacy, the pharmacist would have time during the day to read the gossip magazines. Doris does not take any medications. The only capsules she ingests regularly are the vitamins recommended by her daughter Susan, who is also an avid runner.
In her non-exercising hours, Doris is hardly sedentary. She and her daughter are housemates. They have a clear division of labor: Doris runs the household while Susan is at work. In addition to exercising, Doris spends most days helping Susan get to work by dropping her at the local ‘T’ stop; doing the laundry, buying groceries, preparing dinner, and picking Susan up at the ‘T” when the workday is over.
Doris thrives on her ability to manage so much for herself, and for her daughter.
“Why shouldn’t I take care of her? I’m her mother. When you are a mother, you do everything possible to make your children’s lives better.”
Doris is delighted that there are so many young people in her everyday world. She is constantly befriending like-minded exercisers that also spend time at the JCC. Like Doris, these fitness mavens can engage in conversation while maintaining a serious stride.
“I am always meeting new people. They’re all ages. We see each other regularly and get to know each other. This year, they even gave me a surprise party for my birthday. They decorated my locker with balloons!”
While there are countless regulars at the gym, Doris can’t name anyone else who has been a loyal participant for 30 years.
Doris’ gym pals not only notice her impeccable health and impressive endurance: they strive to emulate her achievements.
“A lot of them tell me how much they admire me. When I see them in the morning, they say that I’m the reason that they are here. I keep them all coming.”
Doris is rightfully proud to realize that she is appreciated as a role model.
Not surprisingly, when asked for advice on aging, Doris’ response is exercise-related.
“Just take care of yourself. Keep your body moving one way or another. Get out and take a walk. A good walk!”