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Physical fitness guru says exercise key to health at any age

Staff writer

Some people might think Jim Wyatt of Marion County Lake is an exercise nut.

The 79-year-old retired physical education teacher and school counselor works out three times a week at Marion Wellness Center, is on a bowling team, and plays golf. When he golfs, he does not use a golf cart. He walks.

He started his exercise routine about 20 years ago and spends about an hour each time he works out.

“I was convinced that as one got older, I had to do something to stay in shape,” he said. “At the very beginning, it was tempting to quit. I had to force myself to get out of bed, get dressed, and go down there. But after that, there was a transition. If I missed a day, I had to figure out how to make it up.”

Wyatt has been bowling for 40 years. He started bowling while teaching at Centre schools. There was a Centre Bowling League with eight teams of four. Since retiring and moving to Marion in 1990, he has been a member of a team in the Monday Night League in Marion. His team recently received an award at the state senior tournament. He was classified as a super senior, age 75 and above.

Sage advice

Wyatt believes it is important for everyone to work at being physically fit as they age because, without it, muscle mass, strength, tone, and bone density begin to decline.

An exercise regimen should include aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and bicycling plus weight lifting or strength-building exercises. Such an exercise regimen may prevent or at least lessen or delay the onset of cardiovascular disease or stroke and prevent clogging of blood vessels.

Exercise helps to maintain balance and may contribute to lessening stress and improving sleep. It also keeps the body firm, resisting its tendency to sag and show signs of aging.

When someone decides to begin a regular exercise program, it’s important to start slow, walking short distances and using light weights with just a few repetitions. This will prevent sore muscles, which can discourage a person and make them quit.

Wyatt said the most important thing is to stay committed and not “bail out.” It took Wyatt at least six weeks of commitment before it became an integral part of his life.

Before anyone begins a somewhat vigorous exercise program, they would be well advised to consult with their doctor first, who can help them set up a program to meet their needs.

If a physical fitness gym is not available, things can be done at home with basic equipment and elementary exercises.

“For someone my age, doing this exercise routine may be a story in itself,” Wyatt said. “No one needs to think they are too old or have not done any exercises that they can’t benefit by starting now. That is simply not true. Everything I have read states, ‘It’s never too late to start.’

“The bottom line is by trying to stay physically fit, one may actually feel better, have more energy, be healthier, prolong one’s life, and who knows, may even look better and younger in the process.”

Wyatt will turn 80 in June. He considers himself healthy. He takes little medication and does not have high blood pressure. He takes no supplements and is not on a special diet.

“I eat what I want to,” he said. “I take one serving and stop because I’m full.”

Last modified March 18, 2015

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