Monday, January 24, 2011

A Tribute to Mr. Jack LaLanne-- Fitness At Any Age

The world lost an incredible man yesterday.  Jack LaLanne was one of the first people to really bring fitness into the home and make it not only accessible to the mainstream public (including women!), but desirable.

One of my favorite things about Jack is that he was a living, breathing example of how a healthy lifestyle can keep a person vital at any age.  At 96 years old, Jack was still strong, still exercising two hours per day, still sharp, and still able to care for himself without assistance.  He was felled by pneumonia, not any of the diseases associated with old age, and my guess is that if he hadn't caught that, he'd be around for many years to come.

Jack, you will be so, so missed.


And the proof is in the science, too.  Studies show that even folks in their 80's and 90's showed muscle mass and strength gains when they started on a weight training program without any side effects ( http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/51A/6/B425.abstract , http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199406233302501 , http://geronj.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/1/M22.short and many more ).

Strongman Joe Rollino at 103 years old.  Not too shabby.  He was, very tragically, killed by a van at age 104.  He was strong, healthy and vibrant to the end.
 A lot of people stop exercising when they get older, either because they're afraid to lift, don't see any reason to, or just don't want to.   I personally find it much scarier to lose my ability to think for myself and take care of myself.   If you want to remain strong and independent, you need to keep your muscles and joints strong and active (and your mind will improve, too-- http://neuro.cjb.net/cgi/content/full/25/17/4217 , http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/63/1/62.full ,  just a few of many resources on this).  Balance training and flexibility are important, too (http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Aging/6-12-11-SeniorCitizensImprove.htm )-- deaths from hip fractures in older populations are frequent.  My own father, who had every physical ailment you can think of from heart failure to kidney failure and beyond, was finally felled by a broken hip simply by trying to get back into bed on his own (in his lifetime, he did not exercise, nor did he believe in healthy eating).   

Bette Calman, the Yoga Supergranny, at age 83 in this pic, still teaches yoga and kicks some serious ass.
 So Jack, I salute you and thank you for being such an amazing example.  for inspiring so many, and for defying tradition and bringing healthy lifestyles to the public.  You were one of my heroes.  Rest in peace.  This set of pushups is for you.

(for a list of Jack's phenomenal physical achievements, check this out: http://www.jacklalanne.com/jacks-adventures/feats-and-honors.php )

Have any salutes to Jack you'd like to express, or questions/comments about exercising at advanced ages?  Post 'em here!

6 comments:

  1. Nice job Melody! A fine tribute. Great references too.

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  2. My mom used to take me to Jack LaLanne Health Spas when I was a baby... before I could even walk. I would crawl around on the floor while her and my cousin exercised.
    To me, he is the greatest inspiration for living a vibrant healthy life.
    Thanks for the great tribute Melody! :-)

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  3. Excellent blog post Melody! Jack is inspiring. I think it's time I tried out P90X as a next-phase of fitness for me.

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  4. Thank you so much, Mark! Let me know how it goes. :)

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