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Monday, November 05, 2007

Running As Medicine For Elders-The Fifth Avenue Mile 2007

Abraham Weintraub of Greater New York, was the most senior runner—at 98 years old, he finished the Fifth Avenue mile in 18:49.


A few meters from the start of the George Sheehan Memorial Mile 70+ race, the competitors begin to break away.

(Right frame)The leading lady in the 70+ women’s race was Eve Pell of Greenbrae, CA (7:04).

(above left) First-place George Sheehan Memorial Mile 60 to 69 race winner Harold Nolan of the Shore Athletic Club pulled in a speedy 5:14 finish.

As a member of the 'Elderblogger' community, MrKen is aware of plenty of complaints written by some of my 'baby-boomer' (and older) peers--but often still in their 40's & 50's--about declining vigor, reduced libido & various aches and pains supposedly caused by aging. And while lip-service is usually paid to the ideals of a healthy diet and exercise--I am unaware of many in my age group that actually follow an exercise program of any kind.

Frankly, many of the bodily changes attributed to "aging" are really due to a premature deterioration on account of an increasingly unhealthy American lifestyle. Obesity and a sedentary existence have been increasingly linked to many diseases-- including various cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, as well as injuries and falls.

Because muscle mass, bone density & cardiovascular capacity can decline markedly as we age, exercise becomes an increasingly important tool to combat this lifestyle-related deterioration that is really premature aging. And regular aerobic exercise releases chemicals in the brain that act as natural antidepressants.

MrKen currently combines a 7 mile walk & 1 1/2 mile run @ 3 times a week. During the summer, I played tennis at least once or twice a week, generally with much younger players (singles & doubles) for 4-5 hours/session. I also do training with free-weights. I am determined not to suffer the fate of my father, who died of a heart attack at age 62 (my age now), after suffering from angina & heart failure for a number of years.

But I have to admit that my efforts seem to pale against what some elders have accomplished.

During the running of this year's NYC Marathon, it was announced that the oldest male participant was 88 years old--while the oldest female competitor was 87!

On Sept. 29 the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile competition was held; really a series of races from 80th Street to 60th Street. According to The New York Times & the New York Road Runners Club, there were a bevy of older runners:

--The oldest runner of the day was 98-year-old Abe Weintraub of Brooklyn. His time was 18:49, and he was proud. "I'm glad I ran it," he said. "I'm glad I finished. It becomes tough, but i could run another mile right now. I ran the whole mile, no walking. Will I run next year? Sure. I'll run every year. It's become a habit."

--Weintraub was not last in the George Sheehan memorial race for those 70 and older (named for the cardiologist & marathon runner). David Gerli, 96, of Manhattan, finished in 21:03 and was disappointed. "I didn't do as well as I thought I would," he said. "I broke my hip two years ago, and fell in the spring. That's why I can't sprint. I didn't run. I walked fast. I hope I'll do better next year.

--The fastest in the 80-84 age group was John Bates of Pleasantville, N.Y., in an (amazing) 7:29. He indicated that he "started running in high school, gave it up and then started running again. About next year, I'm not sure. When you're in your 80's, you have to take it year by year."

--Joan Rowland,81...said she was taking life a year at a time. She ran a 10:27 and said, "I feel O.K." She added..."Next year, if I'm alive, I'll run it again." Rowland said running had been a tonic. "I've had heart disease, cancer of the arm and several ministrokes," she said. "I started running when I was 71 to help me recover from cancer. Running is my medicine."

Curtesy of the New York Times- to read the full article follow this link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/sports/othersports/30track.html

Curtesy of the New York Road Runners Club-for the full story & many more pictures, go here:
http://www.nyrr.org/races/2007/mile/gallery_local.asp

*** Do NOT initiate an exercise program of any kind without medical clearance from your doctor, ESPECIALLY if you are over 60 years of age & ESPECIALLY if you have heretofore led a sedentary lifestyle. Yearly EKG's & medical monitoring are mandatory for joggers who are past 60 years of age. (Per Kenneth Cooper, the "Aerobics" guru). To read about him, go here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_H._Cooper

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