Ted Hart spent his career in information technology, retiring from IBM in 2006. But once he and his wife, Bobbi, moved to a senior adult community in Frisco, Texas, he realized he wasn't finished working. How could this longtime sports and fitness enthusiast turn a blind eye to reports that 80 percent of senior citizens don't adhere to a regular fitness program? And that many chronic diseases they have were preventable through staying fit?
"I thought that maybe I could make a difference, and through Bobbi's encouragement, I acquired a certification in personal training," says Hart, who is 75 and has competed in Texas Senior Games. He's now a staff member of the fitness facility where he lives, and has been working as a personal trainer with residents for three years.
Typical week of workouts: I awake at 5:11 a.m. every weekday and do vigorous intensive sessions that start at 6 a.m. and last 25 to 30 minutes. I use either a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer. After dinner three days a week, I do resistance exercises in which I exercise all major muscle groups. Throughout the day I intersperse my home duties with stretching, balance and more strengthening. For example, a "hand gripper" is usually at my side to strengthen my grip for those many activities of daily living that require a strong grip, like opening those tightly sealed jars.
If I had just 20 minutes to work out, I would: The two most important elements of fitness for seniors are cardio and core strength. So, I would spend two minutes to warm up, eight on core exercises, eight more with vigorous cardio and finish with two minutes of stretching.
What gets in the way of my workout: Being mostly retired and fitness being a high priority in my life, I can honestly say that not too much gets in my way. In other words, I have no good excuses. Sometimes in the evening, though, I get involved in other things and cannot pull myself away. We must all give ourselves a little slack.
Proudest fitness moment: I have experienced many gratifying moments seeing people adopt a fitness program. But the one that is foremost in my mind is one client who gave me a thank you note beginning with the words: "Thank you for helping me get my life back on track."
Fitness goals: As a senior citizen, my fitness goals are a little scaled down from my earlier years where fitness training was to allow me to compete effectively. Now my goals are to continue to follow the guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine for achieving overall health and fitness, thus enabling me to perform the activities of daily living, minimize risks of chronic diseases and maintain my independence for as long as possible. I still do like to compete in sports appropriate for my age.
Favorite healthy food: Oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast, fish, chicken or egg sandwich for lunch, pasta or lean meat and potato with green vegetables for dinner, and a glass of red wine before dinner.
Favorite indulgence: Hamburgers, pizza, chocolate milk.
Three things you'll always find in my refrigerator: Orange juice, high-protein shakes, leftovers.
What I could stand to eat more of: Broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, green beans.
And less of: Hamburgers, creamy salad dressing, chocolate cake, brownies.
What I'd tell someone who wants to follow my routine: Adopting a healthy lifestyle is not easy at first. But if you set your mind to it and make it a habit, it becomes part of your daily routine. You will quickly see the benefits: activities of daily living become easier; you'll sleep better and have more energy. Feeling better about yourself will make you happier, more social and better able to cope with life's challenges. Healthy eating is vital, but that doesn't mean you can't splurge a little. Also, recruit support from family and friends. Sharing your fitness goals is a wonderful motivation toward accomplishment.
What my workout says about me: I am goal-oriented, structured and driven to succeed. I understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and am willing to spend the necessary time in the gym to reach that state of well-being.