No matter your age, getting healthier with exercise is possible. Studies show that people who stay active benefit from exercise, whether you’re 20 or 100.
Case in point: Rodney Alexander, age 100, is always on the move.
In fact, Rodney recently cut short an interview at Healthy Life Center – Fort Myers because he had to exercise. “I don’t want to be late,” he says.
Today he’s joining his workout buddies at Sit & Be Fit, a group class that strengthens and stretches the body from head to toe. Since the center opened five years ago, Rodney has stretched, lifted, walked, bent, turned, crouched, and tasked his body with physical and aerobic exercise. He steps on the elliptical trainer regularly, too.
That is, when he’s not doing leg presses and curls, and chest and shoulder lifts on the weight machines. His workout days are Tuesdays and Thursdays, without fail.
Rodney, a Michigan native, celebrated his 100th birthday on July 12. To put that milestone in perspective, Rodney was born the same year Prohibition began, Woodrow Wilson was U.S. president, and the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.
“I have no secrets,” Rodney admits when asked for the inside scoop to living longer.
It’s apparently not in his genes; his mother lived until age 70, although his father reached 87 before passing. He doesn’t smoke, drink excessively, and the only sport he ever played was golf, which he quit after he settled in Fort Myers 30 years ago.
At the tender age of 70, the Michigan native retired from his career as a manufacturing engineer with Ford Motor Company. “People were surprised I was as old as I was, even back then, after I retired,” he says with a laugh.
The only hint he offers about his durability is: “I have always been interested in health, from the very beginning. I’ve also led a life that was a happy one.”
Kathy Gardner, an exercise specialist with Lee Health, has worked with Rodney since 2004.
“Actually, I don’t really work with Rodney,” Kathy explains, marveling at that fact. “He doesn’t require any assistance on any of the machines. He does everything on his own.”
Kathy says Rodney hasn’t changed much in the past 15 years. “He remains very fit, has excellent posture, and great muscle tone,” she says. “He has the strength to maintain his balance, which is so important as we get older. His exercise consistency is the key. Rodney is always at the center. He’s been coming for years. Staying consistent with our exercise is incredibly important.”
At age 98, Rodney had to quit driving his car after he took a tumble while walking the family dog outside the single-family home he shares with Joan, his 80-year-old wife. “She’s doing pretty well, too,” he adds, chuckling.
Rodney’s good humor belies how serious his fall was. He suffered a subdural hematoma when his head struck the pavement.
Rodney rehabilitated at HealthPark Care & Rehabilitation Center. After three months, he went home. “The subdural hematoma went away by itself,” he says.
After his workout today, Rodney will ride home with Joan, who drives him to and from the center.
“This is a very unique place,” Rodney says. He looks out at the exercise area where exercisers are working up a sweat either alone with an exercise specialist. “A lot of the rehab therapists here are the same ones who helped repair people like me before we came here. I get all these therapists to choose from.”
The thought delights him, like an embarrassment of riches. He laughs again, and then excuses himself to make his exercise class. Again.
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