The Race Is the Cure

Standing along the driveway leading up to the place they call home, about 30 senior citizens got themselves prepared – wiggling their ankles and rolling their heads from side to side, then stretching out various other parts of their bodies. Concluding with some enthusiastic cheers, the men and women – some dressed in shorts and others in jogging pants, but all wearing a standard printed white T-shirt – walked down the driveway and lined up at the official starting line.

In a nod to healthy living and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Martins Run, where they live, residents and staff of the Media-based retirement community "raced" around the campus – though all participants were actually encouraged to walk.

"I'd like to run," insisted Amy Galfand, who does just that every morning, and has even participated in a marathon. "But I don't want to be the only one. I'll see what happens."

It turned out she walked the third of a mile along with everyone else, while others stood on the sidelines, punctuating their cries of encouragement by shaking colored pompoms.

Most of the residents noted that though this walk's goal was to promote fitness, they usually walk, jog or engage in some type of exercise during the week.

And throughout the year, nutritionists give lectures about low-fat diets and conduct health classes specifically for diabetics. Just last month, in fact, a lecturer spoke about how to keep the brain healthy. (As it so happens, the behaviors that keep the heart healthy – eating low-cholesterol foods, along with a regular exercise regimen – also keep the brain in good shape.)

According to Linda Sterthous, chief executive officer of Martins Run, the community's fitness center is open every day except Saturdays, and is staffed with a physical therapist who assists the residents with cardiovascular and mild weight-bearing exercises. Over the summer, water aerobics is also offered in the facility's outdoor pool.

In addition, residents who do not participate in classes such as yoga, tai chi or line dancing may opt to exercise on their own.

"This is my second walk today – I walked on my own this morning," stated Oscar Milner, who came in third. "I just try and stay in shape."

The first-place winner was Dr. Stanley Rooklin. Second place went to Barbara Ward.

Even those who didn't place felt that completing was an accomplishment in and of itself.

'Keep on Walking'
"I did it a lot faster than I would have because I was encouraged by these guys to keep up," said Carl Rothman, 92, who joined buddies Harry Sosson and Ben Levy. "I came in last place, but I just love to walk."

When the sneakers were untied and temporarily retired, the exercisers nibbled on fruit and muffins to continue the health-conscious theme.

"You know, [I read about a] study that said that people that live in a residence such as ours live 12 years longer than their life expectancy," relayed 87-year-old Pearl Sand. "So, I've got a lot of years ahead of me – and I'm going to keep walking!"



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