Irma

Irma Sendelbach, 87, trains six days a week.

Back in our November print magazine we featured amazing older neighborhood residents.

“You mean, like, 40?” My daughter would say. No. (You’re grounded). We’re talking people in their 80s, 90s and 100-plus who shared their secrets to long life. To a man (and woman), each cited exercise as a key component of their long-lasting vitality.

Following the story, a representative from Presbyterian Village North in Lake Highlands notified me about some residents there who maintain pretty intense workout regimens.

Take, for instance, Irma Sendelbach, age 87, who says she picked up the pace after moving into the senior living community. She started a walking routine 30 years ago. Now, she participates in a chair exercise class followed by a workout using the bicycle, treadmill, cross trainer and the NuStep trainer three times a week. The other three days a week she works out at home.

As did the Almighty, Irma only rests on Sundays. 

Dale Eichenberger is 67 and regularly ventures out on hiking excursions—but he is recovering from surgery now, so he settles for training at the community health club six days a week.

It’s not uncommon to see the residents at 70, 80 and 90 working out several days a week there at Presbyterian Village North, says wellness director Shannon Radford.

It makes sense. I’ve found that exercising can be contagious — in families and among social groups and even neighborhoods and communities — and once you stick with it long enough to feel some benefits (which generally means a few days) many develop a compulsion to keep it up.

Irma can relate to that.

“I have found that exercise relieves my stress and really changes my outlook on life. If I skip a day of exercise, I feel lethargic and just don’t have any liveliness,” she says.

And it is easy to bond with others who are acting on similar compulsions.

“I feel so much better when I’m being active with my friends,” she adds. “You find the love of camaraderie when you participate in one of the classes here.”

And if you’re like Dale Eichenberger, exercise can mean bonding with family as well as seeing the world from a new heights.

“I started working out later in life because my son enjoyed mountain climbing and I wanted to keep up with him,” says Eichenberger. “I have tweaked my normal exercise routine to focus more on balance because I recently had surgery. I just reached the six-month-mark after my surgery and I’m going to start back up with the treadmill and elliptical.  My goal is to prepare for my next hiking excursion. I enjoy incorporating the outdoors into my exercise when I can because I enjoy exploring, and I like to take walks on the nearby trails.”

The wellness manager at Presbyterian Village North says these two,  as well as many other residents, are more active than the average pre-retirement adult.

“Many of them are living proof that it is never too late to begin the journey toward improved fitness.” She adds that just 10-30 minutes of exercise a day has been shown to increase wellbeing and even prevent dementia.