Boy, do I feel lazy now!!

maryanntxOctober 6, 2003

I read this at MSNBC.

What a cool couple!!!

Meet a geriatric supercoupleÂ

HeÂs 92, sheÂs 86, and theyÂre both gym rats


WASHINGTON, Oct. 6Â Abe Cohen works out every day, and the workouts include at least a couple hundred crunches. Cohen is 92. His wife, Esther, who works out with him, is 86. Her daily ab exercise total is 400.

THE BAY SHORE, N.Y., couple have been exercising at a BallyÂs Fitness Center in their Long Island community for 27 years. ÂWe go to BallyÂs seven days a week  me and my wife, of course  and we go for two hours, Cohen said. Experts think the Cohens show what older people are capable of, although they caution most of them not to try everything the Cohens do. For the Cohens, exercise started at Abe CohenÂs retirement in 1975, with a suggestion by the younger of their two children, 57-year-old Martin. As Abe recalls it, the conversation went like this: ÂHe said, ÂDad, join the gym, youÂll have something to do. I said, ÂCome on, I never did it; why are you bothering me? Even though neither Abe nor Esther had been exercisers before they joined the BallyÂs club, both were used to physically hard work.

Abe had worked at a plant that made electrical equipment used in power plants. ÂI used to pick up steel sheets, cut the sheets, but I got so used to it that to me it wasnÂt heavy work, he said. His wife had worked in clothing factories, and retired a year after her husband, so she was still working at the factory while they had started at the gym.

The Cohens began with the cheapest contract, to see how things went. ÂIt worked itself up, Abe said. Now, itÂs habit. ÂWe do it automatically. We just enjoy it. ItÂs not a chore. The Cohens typically are at the gym at 6:15 a.m., just after it opens. He does 30 minutes at a fast walk on the treadmill, works his legs and arms on the machines, and then does his famous crunches. She also does arm and leg exercises, along with stomach exercises, but no aerobics. The club no longer has the track she used to walk, and the dance exercise classes are too fast-paced, so she lets her housework handle her aerobics. ÂI keep myself busy going up and down to the basement, she said. ÂThatÂs enough walking.Â

If the millions of sedentary Americans would engage in an active lifestyle, experts say, they could make substantial improvements in their health. But before you embark on a fitness program, heed the following advice.

See a doctor Consult your physician for a check-up to make sure you don't have any health conditions, such as high blood pressure or asthma, which could make exercising hazardous. Your doctor may recommend a beginning exercise plan based on your age and health status.

Start slowly Begin with a comfortable level of activity  even if it's just 5 minutes per session  and gradually build up your endurance. You should never be in pain or unable to speak comfortably during physical activity. Walking, biking, swimming and other low-impact exercises are often recommended for beginners, overweight individuals, older people and those with arthritis and certain other health conditions.

Pick activities you like Enjoying exercise boosts the odds that you'll stick with it.

Use correct form It's a good idea for beginners to consult an experienced, credentialed personal trainer who can demonstrate proper techniques for cardiovascular and weight-training machines and suggest a safe workout plan.

SECRET TO OLD AGE The Cohens workouts get attention from members and employees of the club. ÂThey fuss with us, Abe Cohen said. So do other seniors. ÂAll the guys say, ÂWe want to be like you, he said. ÂI give them incentives, they say. ÂMost people are amazed by their age and what they are capable of doing, said Mitch Solarsh, the clubÂs general manager. ÂIt is unbelievable to exercise as consistently as they do and lift what they do.Â

But Abe Cohen does not believe exercise alone is the secret to the coupleÂs successful old age. The Cohens will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary Nov. 9, and he believes a happy married life is a big factor. ÂWe thank God for our blessings, and she takes care of me and I take care of her, he said. ÂWe donÂt envy nobody, and we are grateful for what we have. Experts also marvel at their ability. ÂTo some extent, they are geriatric supermen, said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, head of kinesiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. ÂI like to think of them as a barometer of the possible, an indicator of human potential. The Cohens can be an object lesson to people young and old about the benefits of getting strong and staying that way. ÂIf a person practices regular moderate to vigorous physical activity, they can expect to be outperforming the average for their age group, Chodzko-Zajko said.

The trouble for most people is that they donÂt exercise, said Colin Milner, chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging, an advocacy group for physical activity in older people. ÂThey lose their abilities to function on a daily basis  a result of disuse, he said. Studies have shown that starting exercise, even in the 90s, can restore some of the loss. It wonÂt make all old people into future Cohens, but many people are headed that way, Milner said. He pointed to the athletes of the Senior Olympics, although those competitors can start at the callow age of 50. The Summer National Senior Games began with 2,500 athletes in 1987, and had risen to 12,000 in 1999  a sharp increase in elite-level older people, he said. Very old people should see a doctor before they start an exercise program, and then work at their own pace, Milner said. ÂListen to your body and go with the pace your body is telling you.Â

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    Bookmark   October 6, 2003 at 8:10PM
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Yeah, it's possible.

We had a 95 year old admitted to our ICU with a broken leg ... he was hitching a halfbroke mule to a plow and it ran him down. I went in to get lab work, and the guy in that ICU space sure didn't look 95 to me. I'd have thought he was early 60s at the latest. The muscle testing and bone density scans put him at the average for men in their early 30s, and WAY ahead of almost anyone over 40. On testing, mnay of his children were well above average for their age groups (he had children scattered from 30s to 70s ... he had been quite a womanizer in his youth, and had buried a couple of wives).

He drank in moderation, smoked an occasional pipe of home-grown tobacco, had a diet that would have killed a less active person (pure Southern salt and cholestreol), but he also had a great family, a doting wife in her mid 60s (they married when he was in his 50s and she in her 20s), farmed his own little farm, went to church weekly ... and was a vrey physically active person. He had just never slowe down because he thought he had to.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2003 at 8:02AM
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