Exercise fuels senior citizen's longevity
David Julian, 72, works out with the leg press at Streamline Fitness, McKees Rocks. He says he works out 2 hours a day.
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"I had kidney stones when I was about 40," said David Julian, 72. "That's the last time I was in the hospital for anything."
He can't remember the last time he was sick.
Mr. Julian, a retired physical education teacher, is blessed by good luck and good genes. But his remarkable good health is largely a product of his exercise habits.
Every morning of virtually every day, he goes to Streamline Fitness in McKees Rocks for a two- to three-hour workout.
"I work on the upper body one day, my legs the next," he said. "I stick with the pulleys. At my age, I don't want to mess with dumbbells."
Mr. Julian supplements his resistance exercises with a 5-to- 7-mile walk almost every day. He prefers to walk outside in his neighborhood. But during winter and when the weather is inclement, he utilizes the treadmills at Streamline Fitness. He also plays golf once a week, hunts and fishes.
"I used to be a runner," he said, "but it tore the hell out of my knees."
His workout routine has helped the 5-foot-9-inch Mr. Julian keep his weight at a svelte 172 pounds for the past 20 years. Mr. Julian's (systolic) blood pressure was 122. That's well below the level (140-159) where doctors consider prescribing medication for high blood pressure. Blood pressure tends to rise with age. About two-thirds of senior citizens have high blood pressure.
Mr. Julian follows no special diet.
"I eat pretty much everything, but in moderation," he said. "No protein drinks, no supplements."
His workout routine also was critical to his mental and emotional health when his wife died 12 years ago.
"I was devastated," he said. "My buddies would come and literally pull me out of the house, get me to do things."
His gym has become the center of his social life.
"There are a lot of nice people here," he said. "The staff here is unreal. There are about five of us older guys who are here regularly."
The staff at Streamline Fitness regard Mr. Julian as a de facto part of it. She often asks him to show newcomers the ropes, said owner Amy Mancini.
"Everybody loves Dave," said Nina Nickles. "He helps everyone out."
One relative newcomer is Mr. Julian's grandson, Anthony Julian, 18. Anthony has studied martial arts since he was a child but says: "Pop-pop is way stronger than me. He's my inspiration."
Seniors -- even those who've never exercised regularly before -- should come to the gym, David Julian said.
"Most people are just afraid to start," he said. "As long as you do what you are capable of doing -- you don't try to strain -- you'll be all right."
The National Institute on Aging says there are four main types of exercise, and seniors need some of each. From www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/exerciseforseniors.html:
1. Endurance activities -- like walking, swimming or riding a bike -- which build "staying power" and improve the health of the heart and circulatory system.
2. Strengthening exercises, which build muscle tissue and reduce age-related muscle loss.
3. Stretching exercises to keep the body limber and flexible.
4. Balance exercises to reduce the chances of a fall.
Note: It's recommended that people check with their doctor if they are over 50 and aren't used to energetic activity. Other reasons include new health symptoms that haven't been reviewed by the doctor.
First Published August 27, 2012 12:00 am