Flint resident Jane Pfeiffer celebrated her 90th birthday on Monday doing what she loves to do five times a week - arm presses and other exercises.

Dressed in jogging pants, a white T-shirt and tennis shoes, she carefully completed a 30-minute workout on the milestone day.

For the past 12 years, she's been a regular at KH Fitness, where she teams with her daughter, Sharon Fourniquet.

Ms. Fourniquet helps her mother load 25 pounds on each side of a weight machine to work out her back and shoulders.

"They give her the strength to get up and out of the chair," Fourniquet said.

Mother and daughter take turns doing reps of 15 on the machines and then head to a stair stepper.

"I don't hurt anywhere," Mrs. Pfeiffer said. "I like coming here. It just makes me feel better."

Aside from a partial knee replacement and taking a few medications, Mrs. Pfeiffer has good health and received a positive report at a recent doctor's visit.

"He said keep doing what you're doing, and I can't stop doing it," she said. "In my head, I don't feel 90, but my body stops me a little bit. When you feel good, you just want to do things. I just want to keep going."

In addition to her weekday workouts, she walks occasionally.

She and her other daughter, Patricia, who lives with her, also are mindful about what they eat.

The key to mobility and strength at her age, she said, has been making health a priority. Fitness has been a part of her life for decades. Her late husband, Carl, taught wrestling, boxing and weightlifting at a Houston-area YMCA. Before his death, they'd work out together at KH Fitness.

She's admired for both her sweet disposition and dedication to physical health at the gym, a place where many are avid athletes or health-conscious members who work with personal trainers.

"When they made her, they broke the mold. She's a good mom," Ms. Fourniquet said. "We're hoping she stays around a lot longer."

 

FITNESS IS FOR EVERYONE

Exercising truly is for anyone of any age, fitness experts say. And it doesn't have to be done in the name of weight loss.

"People would be more apt to exercise if they understand the benefits of exercise," said Cassie Ebert, exercise specialist at East Texas Medical Center's Olympic Plaza. "I think a lot of people think exercise is only to help you be thin and fit, but really, people who exercise more, especially as they age, have a greater independence.

"Independence is a lot more important as we age," she said. "You maintain flexibility, strength so you can put your groceries away. Or having endurance to go shopping with friends - not being worried about falls."

The recommended amount of exercise doesn't change much as people age, but the intensity and focus of those workouts do.

"Bone strength, flexibility and muscle strength are more important to an aging person than to a 20-year-old," Ms. Ebert said.

That's true for people like 26-year-old Edward Caldwell. Health and fitness is a major part of his life, beginning in his youth when he played basketball. He earned a degree in health and kinesiology from The University of Texas at Tyler and now works for UT Health Northeast as a health education coordinator for a colorectal cancer prevention program.

He likes the outdoors, doing activities such as running or yard work.

"The key to staying fit is doing something you love," Caldwell said. "You can bring a friend or partner so you will have accountability. You want to find somebody on your level and you can push each other to get better."

Having that accountability is important for Jamie Moore, 44 and Chris Carter, 50.

The two women both educate the community in their respective jobs with Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals and Clinics.

Ms. Moore, who coordinates care for heart attack patients at Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, educates the public about heart disease and she's also working to reduce risk factors for herself following a medical scare.

"A year ago, I found out I had (kidney) cancer in the ER where I worked," she said. "It was a wakeup call and I realized how important life was."

Embracing family, friends and her religious faith, she set out to make some small changes, including ridding her diet of soda and beginning daily exercise. She walks, runs on a track and does Zumba with friends.

"I'm eating better and taking better care of myself," she said.

Ms. Carter, a former basketball referee, has been active all of her life. She works out at least three times each week by walking or riding a bike in her neighborhood. She, too, had a health scare when she was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in 2007.

She's researched her family histories to see which illnesses she was most at risk for. She learned several members of her family had high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes, including her brother, who died of a massive heart attack at 37.

"I've been very passionate about learning family history," she said.

Ms. Carter said while she can't do much about hereditary factors, she can work on other factors that determine her health. For example, she avoids smoking and alcohol.

"Change the risk factors you can - quit smoking, watch your sugar intake and eat a good diet," Ms. Carter said. "If you fall off the wagon, get up and get back on it."

 

Twitter: @cdillard_TMT

 

 
 

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