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Seniors, Move It or Gain It

Seniors, Move It or Gain It

Don Pellman, age 99, did the high jump in college, but gave it up for the next 58 years. Then after retirement he decided to get back into track and field. He went on to win four U.S. track records in his age group (high jump, long jump, discus and pole vault -- including one at age 95) and set four world records. “…you have to keep in training 365 days a year,” he says.  “I do something every day, if nothing but long, brisk walks.”

Clearly, he’s living proof that researchers from the University of South Carolina have got it right. They found older folks need to use it to lose it and move it or gain it -- weight that is.

Looking at the habits of 4,999 adults ages 20-70, they found most seniors improve their diet by opting for more veggies and leaner proteins, but they still gain a lot of life-shortening weight (35% of seniors are obese). The culprit, the researchers say, is a precipitous decline in physical activity. Less than 7.25% of adults 60-69 and 8.5% of those 70+ get the recommended minimum 150 minutes of weekly activity.  

But listen up advancing agers: You can turn back the clock on your RealAge by adopting a walking routine (aim for 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent -- 1 minute of aerobic activity equals 100 steps) and doing strength training twice a week. Maybe taking that short jump to better health will inspire you to try a long jump too!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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