Active Seniors Win Fitness Rewards



The type of exercise the human body requires changes with the age and health of the individual.

Whether one calculates the age of a "senior" starting at 55, 65 or never, senior does not have to mean sedentary -- they run; they test their muscles against the pull of a bow; they bicycle across the county.


Keeping a spring in your step is easy at any age -- just keep moving. Betty Farmer is a perfect example. You can tell she is still a ball of fire with her spry step and wry smile.

They inspire us.

Dr. Harold Rush of Payson earned a spot on the United States Field Archery Team in 2006 and 2002 shooting recurve and bare bow. Rush was a member of the 1987 U.S. Olympic Archery Team.

Ray Kinsman, at age 82, took on the 165-foot elevation gain of Airport Road in 2006 for Habitat for Humanity's 5K run.

Kinsman timed in at 39:52.

Ted Lucas, a local runner who participates in the races for the joy of running timed in at 1:53.

Age group winners among the women at Payson's 2006 Turkey Trot 5K included Caroline Beeler (70-plus), Judy Claerhout (60-69), Kathy Tusitson (50-59).

Runners who compete in the Zane Grey Highline 50-Mile Trail Race are considered ultra-runners.

They tackle the Highline, considered one of the toughest trail runs in America, because of the elevation and loose rocks.

The 2007 race began at 9,500 feet at the 260 Trailhead and finished at Pine Creek.

The oldest male finisher in 2007 was 70-year-old Karsten Solheim of Phoenix. He completed his 12th consecutive Zane Grey race in 15 hours, 27 minutes.

Consider that 25 of his younger challengers did not finish the race at all.

Payson Mountain Bike of Association 2007 state champion is Wayne Gorry. He also took 2004's United States Mountain Bike Marathon National Championship for the 50-plus age group.

In the case of seniors who take the time to exercise, senior means smart.


Sante Ceolin and his wife have been participating in an aerobics program since January. "I thought at first just to bring my wife, but I have more energy since we started aerobics in January," Sante said.

Walking (with or without your hound dog) burns between 172 and 612 calories, depending on the walker's weight and the speed at which they walk. Walking poles or a walking stick can make the going easier.

When the body is in water, there is less weight for the muscles to support. This can make swimming and water aerobics a good choice for many people with back, joint or arthritis problems or other physical limitations.

A 30-minute routine in the pool can give similar results to a longer ground-based workout because water has more resistance than air. Plus pool workouts are low impact.

An hour of brisk water-walking can burn as many as 500 calories.

Payson Parks and Recreation offers water aerobics at Taylor Pool during the summer. The Tonto Apache Fitness and Recreation Center offers water aerobics and swimming all year.

Club U.S.A., the gym at Gila Community College and the Payson Athletic Club offer a variety of fitness classes for seniors (or anyone) to choose from including yoga and Pilates. PAC and Club USA have personal trainers available.

Silver Sneakers and MHAX III offer special workout sessions for seniors at Payson Athletic Club.

Silver Sneakers

Silver Sneakers is a program offered through Humana and PacifiCare insurances to seniors or other individuals who are Medicare-eligible.

Personal trainer Jerry Baker takes seniors through the Silver Sneaker orientation.


Payson Athletic Club's specially designed exercise program for seniors has most of the workout done while seated.

Participants can avail themselves of full circuit weight training anytime and low impact aerobics, taught by Kadi Tenney, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10 a.m.

"I am going to fly," Annie Boisvert joked with her fellow exercisers as she picked up a set of arm weights from under the chair she would sit in later for aerobics.

"I love aerobics -- it gets you motivated and Kadi is an excellent teacher," Boisvert added.

In this class, much of the time people exercise from a seated position. Some of the exercises they do include marching with arm movements or lifting their knees high or moving heels front to back.

Upright exercise may be done by holding onto a chair back.

"I thought at first just to bring my wife, but I have more energy since we started aerobics in January," Sante Ceolin said. "My wife has dementia but she has made amazing progress."

For Odette Ceolin, the progress has meant more than just being able to rise easier from her bed or walk further.

"The most important thing is, she has her brain working," Sante said. "She looks at the instructor and is able to analyze the movements and do them. I am so pleased."

Seniors chat a bit while they are working out in aerobics class or on the gym equipment, so the time spent in the gym is social, as well as physical.

"I often hear them make plans to hike or bike ride or walk the dogs at the park," said PAC manager Lindy Gibson.


"Exercise is good for maintaining your health status or improving it and maintaining flexibility is good for joint pain," said Gibson. "Cardio and weight training go hand in hand for lowering cholesterol and raising metabolism. And don't forget a healthy diet."

Gibson also recommends a full physical with a doctor, before seniors begin any exercise program.

The MHAX III exercise rehabilitation program requires a prescription from the participant's doctor or physical therapist.

The Mogollon Health Alliance sponsors the program.

Medical assistant Beverly Furst monitors participants' blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels before and after their workout routines, which are designed by Laura Schatza, a personal trainer with a degree in health education and nutrition.

There are seniors in the program who suffer from cardiac diseases, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes, as well as many other ailments.

Encouragement to keep exercising comes from personal results and there are prizes when a person has reached their goals. Last September, there was a MHAX III picnic.

"It makes it fun for them to come in and exercise," the certified fitness trainer said.

To learn more

Payson Athletic Club (928) 474-0916

Curves for Women (928) 474-9797

Tonto Apache Gym (928) 474-7093

Club USA Health and Fitness (928) 474-2582

Gila Community College (928) 468-8039

Qigong classes (928) 474-4628

Tai Chi Chuan (928) 474-5004

Hydration tips

When you work out it is especially important to stay hydrated, because the body loses water primarily through sweat. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends keeping a bottle of water with you all day long. Drink 1 to 2 cups of fluid 30 minutes before exercise and a 1/2 to 1 cup for every 15 minutes of exercise.

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