If you’re of a certain age, the names John Glenn and Jack LaLanne should ring a bell.
When it comes to physical and mental fitness, these 20th-century titans were at the top of their games. They presumably exercised and ate healthfully over the course of their lives. LaLanne passed away last year at 96, and former astronaut Glenn turns 92 in July.
What about you? You may have excuses for not leading an active lifestyle: You haven’t been exercising your entire life; you’ve been slowing down since you hit your 40s; you’re on medication(s) for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.; and the old standby – it’s too late.
At Shawsu Workout Studio, our Los Altos fitness facility, we have a single response to multiple justifications for not getting in shape: Bull! It’s never too late – you can begin reversing the effects of aging with as little as one week of exercise.
If Glenn could maintain his youthful mind-body and travel into space – as he did in 1998 at the age of 77 – then there’s no reason why you can’t take a walk or lift some weights.
If LaLanne could, among his many feats, swim handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towing 70 boats with 70 people 1.5 miles – as he did in 1984 at the age of 70 – then there’s no reason why you can’t work out or ride a bike.
It’s never too late
Take the case of Fauja Singh, who turns 101 this year. Singh took up jogging at the age of 81 after the death of his wife and son. At 89, he got serious about running and completed his first marathon in 2000 in London. The centenarian completed a marathon in Toronto last fall. When asked how he could run 26.2 miles, Singh said he simply puts on his shoes, goes outside and runs.
Another inspiring late bloomer is Joy Johnson of San Jose, who started running when she was 59 and is still completing marathons at 84. In an interview with Running Times, Johnson shared her secret to longevity: “Eating right, logging about 50 miles a week and doing up to 150 pushups daily. … I’m just very lucky and blessed and do what I love. I’m also a positive person, which helps. Nothing gets me down. I have to live up to my name.”
At our studio, we are honored to have an 84-year-old client as well as another customer about to turn 96, both of whom work out with us three days a week. The 95-year-old’s mantra is “No Complaints.”
Obviously, we’re not all ready to don our tennis whites or start running marathons, but movement on any and every level reverses the signs of aging and releases feel-good chemicals in the brain.
Find a way – any way – to play. Develop a passion, whether it’s walking, playing with the grandkids, yoga, Pilates, riding a bike, working with a personal trainer or all of the above. Improve your frame of mind by meditating, and remember that diet and exercise are your best medications.
Shawn Murray-Saulsbury and Suzanne Campi Stevens own Shawsu Workout Studio, 985 Fremont Ave., Los Altos. For more information, call 941-6700 or visit www.shawsuworkoutstudio.com.