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50+: Live Better, Longer

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Pumping Iron to Stay Young?

This grandmother says it can help. And experts back her up.

WebMD Feature

May 22, 2000 -- At least five mornings a week, I hustle to the Fountain of Youth. After tumbling out of bed and into workout togs before I've had a chance to think about it, I'm out the door headed for the gym. Clad in tights and a leotard to smooth my bulges, I feel energetic already.

It's a 20-year-old routine. At this point, I could be the poster girl for senior citizen exercise. I'll never see 70 again, and that's as specific as I'm going to get. My regimen includes not just aerobics -- walking the treadmill or taking a class -- but strength training, which the American College of Sports Medicine says is especially crucial for aging bodies like mine. Pump iron, the experts say, and you'll have less of that flab that can make you feel old.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

The Art of Aging Gracefully

In Nora Ephron's best-selling book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, she laments the sorry state of her 60-something neck: "Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn't have to if it had a neck," she writes. "Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever's writing it says it's great to be old. It's great to be wise and sage and mellow; it's great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life. I can't...

Read the The Art of Aging Gracefully article > >

The strength training part of the routine, also called weight training, is the part most people blow off. Too boring, too repetitive, too difficult. Those are the main excuses.

Not so, I say. I'm a great-grandmother, and I only took up weight training five years ago. Sticking with it, I've found, isn't so tough -- as long as you follow a few simple steps.

Here are my secrets.

Plan Ahead (and Don't Forget to Brag)

Every Sunday, I plan the week ahead, scheduling time for workouts as religiously as I make time for work. For me, when something is written down, it's as important as a work assignment.

My workouts are no secret, either. I tell friends, enemies, and acquaintances all about the weights I work with, the number of reps I do, and how often I go to the gym. I'm sure it bores them to tears, but having said all that, how could I possibly quit?

Mornings, Music, Good Company

It's important to work out first thing in the day, I think. Go to the gym, your home gym, or wherever you go to sweat before the business of the day overtakes and overwhelms you. I go to an all-women's gym, which to me means that I can wear whatever I want.

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