Looking better than ever,
the original 1980s Body Electric TV dancers
gather for a reunion in March, 2015.
Back row: Jules. Beth, Jill, Berneice, and BeNisa.
Front row: Jane, Margaret, and Mary.
In March of this year (2015), it was my great pleasure to reunite with several of the original Body Electric TV dancers in Tallahassee, Florida, where my fitness program got its start back in the mid-1980s.
It was such a joy to meet up with these friends again, and it was inspiring see how our dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle has delivered the promised perks. The ladies in the front row, including yours truly, are in their mid-60s. I am the baby boomer supreme at age 68. And the beautiful ladies in the back row are aged 47 to 60.
It was the late Dr. Robert Butler, founding director for the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and an internationally recognized leader in gerontology and geriatrics, who believed that healthy aging is shaped by social and behavioral factors, and adequate nutrition, rather than genetics. The key issue, though, is not the undeniable fact that our bodies do age, but, rather, how they age. Being fit is one of the most important things you can do to ensure healthy aging.
Regular exercise also helps to combat the ongoing damage done to cells, tissues, and organs by chronic conditions such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and the increasing incidence of Type 2 diabetes. Aging may well be a risk factor for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and osteoporosis, but it is not the cause.
Decline and disability are not normal consequences of advanced age
Medical experts say inactivity poses as great a health risk as smoking, contributing to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
People ages 55 and older are one of the fastest growing segments of gym membership, and will help push the fitness category to nearly $30 billion by 2018. But classes that strengthen muscles without stressing aging joints are hard to find. (Unless you look here, of course.)
And wouldn’t you know, boomers are the first generation to reach their older years in worse health than their parents were at the same age—that according to Patricia Ryan, vice president of education at the International Council on Active Aging. As she told the LA Times, “Boomers are more likely to suffer from disability and disease as they age. It’s an inactive lifestyle, lots of fast food and not enough exercise. People used to get up and walk to the bank. Now we all drive.”
Medical advances now enable people to live longer, but not stronger. Those aged 65 today can expect to live until they are 84.1, compared with 78.9 in 1950, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even moderate exercise can keep people healthier as they age. And I’ve got a great picture to prove it!