If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, I bet I'd be passing him out on the greenway. When our 3rd president died at the age of 83, he lived well past the life expectancy of his time (40). In fact he lived past the life-expectancy of men today! No one will ever really know why he lived such a long life, but I do think the fact that he walked 4 miles a day, had to have helped. He was quoted as saying, " The purpose of walking is to relax the mind." Unbeknownst to him, while he was relaxing his mind, he was keeping his old ticker in shape too! Way to go Tom!
One study comprised of 2,300 healthy men (with an average age of 70), found that men who exercise reduced their death risk before 90 by 20 to 30% (depending on how much and how often they exercise). Regular exercise is not a miracle cure, but what it does do is help keep blood pressure down, obesity at bay, help prevent type two diabetes from occurring, increase mental acuity, help keep cholesterol levels down, and help fight depression, just to name a few of the benefits.
If you're reading this and thinking, "This sounds all well and good, but I'm too old to start exercising", then think again. As I was reading The Greensboro News & Record (my local newspaper) Saturday, the following headline caught my eye—"Celebrating 77, One Lap at a Time." The article (by Jennifer Fernandez) was about 77-year-old, Cal Weimer who celebrated his 77th birthday by riding laps for eight hours around a local park for a total of 77 miles!
Now, I bet some of you are saying, "Yeah, I bet he's been an athlete all his life." Wrong! He didn't start riding until he was 72 when he found a mountain bike left at his house by a former foster child. He said it was tough going at first, but stuck with it and eventually bought a "serious" bike, a Sequoia. The article explained how Cal began logging his miles in a notebook and reading articles on cycling and exercise.
In 2006 he competed in the local Senior Games and even got a 3rd-place finish in the more competitive state games in 2009. The article quotes Cal as saying, " So many people my age, they're sitting all day long and watching TV and not using their minds...and not taking care of their aging bodies. I want to do the best I can. I'm pretty lucky to have lived all these many years."
So, when it's hard getting up in the wee hours of the morning for that long run or you're deciding whether or not to skip that afternoon run, think of Cal riding 77 miles on his 77th B-Day! You go Cal!