Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Call These Gym Rats Old

“It's hard not to feel at least a little inspired watching three gym rats in their late 70s and early 80s work out day after day, week after week. If their routine convinces someone to get up off the couch, great, said Ed Kottick, 78. But for the record, he and his buddies aren't old. ‘We're not elderly; we're kids,’ Kottick said during a break from his workout at Core Fitness East, 1555 S. First Ave. Exercise has helped Kottick, Oscar Beasley, 81, and Jack Nothnagle, 83, of Iowa City, stay young. They spur each other on, and along the way have avoided injuries, stayed mentally and physically healthy and formed a bond. The trio has been working out together Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at ‘The Core,’ as regulars call it, since 2005. ‘We three are surprisingly in harmony, but I would add, too, that if I did not have these two guys, I would not be able to do this alone,’ said Nothnagle, a former University of Iowa professor and head of the French and Italian department who retired in 1994. ‘This exercising can be quite dull, but with these two, it's fun.’ Nothnagle joined Beasley and Kottick at Core after a two-week free trial. At the time, Nothnagle thought he had polymyositis with symptoms including leg problems. Soon after, it was gone, he said. ‘I noticed months later, the problems in my legs were gone. I wasn't having problems walking or with stairs,’ Nothnagle said. ‘The tests all came back normal. I lost weight, too.’ The three say they still have minor health issues but overall are healthy. The trio starts with 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercises, such as riding an exercise bike or running on a treadmill and then pump iron for an hour, covering the different muscle groups throughout the week. To top it off, they bike to and from the gym, and in season pedal 30- to 60-mile loops once a week to surrounding towns for added exercise. Joseph Buckwalter, a UI professor and orthopedic surgeon who studies aging and osteoarthritis, said, while never having met the men, they seem to have an ideal routine. It appears to include a broad variety of low-impact activities, which is important, he said. Exercise is important as people age, Buckwalter said. It slows the loss of muscle mass, which helps prevent injury, it can delay diabetes, and it improves balance, durability and mobility, he said. ‘It is very clear that maintaining regular physical activity improves the quality of life,’ Buckwalter said. ‘Regular physical activity may actually lengthen life.’ Buckwalter recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, or three to four hours spread across the week with a mix of cardiovascular work, weights and sports such as biking, swimming or golf.”

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