By: Nathan Fordyce
LAWRENCE, Kan. — If a person walks into a gym, they’ll see younger people using an iPod with Beats by Dr. Dre, girls wearing spandex pants, guys wearing cut-off shirts, and most of them trying to get into beach weather shape.
But then that one person walks by who doesn’t fit that model. They’re older, wearing looser clothes, gray hair and probably don’t know what Beats by Dr. Dre are, but they are still trying to work out and be healthy, even if they don’t fit in with the crowd around them.
There’s never been limitations on age as far as working out is concerned. Mary Fry, an associate professor at the University of Kansas for health, sport and exercise science, believes elderly people are able to do more than the recommended hours.
“If they walk two hours a day and 14 hours a week they can maintain their health and be in good shape,” Fry said. “Seniors are capable of doing more than that. People of all ages run marathons and do everything else, so it’s not like there are limitations.”
The only type of limitations that would cause a problem, would be the lack of classes available at certain gyms. The Ambler Student Recreational Center in Lawrence is open to all University students, faculty and staff and along with community members.
Jill Urkoski, associate director of fitness and staff development at the Ambler Student Recreational Center, believes the classes that are offered at the rec should not be based on age, but rather open to everyone who wants to attend.
“We’ve chosen to make it so that anyone can attend the events that we have,” Urkoski said. “It’s classes like fitness groups where you would see the older crowd because they feel more secure and comfortable with having an instructor.”
As the body gets older, it’s not capable of doing the things it once did. People can’t just jump into an activity without warming up, especially if they haven’t done it for a while.
“It’s important as we get older to stay flexible by stretching before we start exercising and that way we can keep our strength even if we take a long break from doing activities,” Urkoski said.
When people exercise, they tend to try and find an activity that can help them out the most in the outcome they want to achieve. Fry doesn’t think there is one activity that can help the most for older people.“Things like swimming and biking, those things are non-weight-bearing so that can be easier on your joints,” Fry said.
Fry also said that the key for middle-aged and elderly people is to find an activity that they enjoy. The activity can be one that can be done with a buddy, which would make it more enjoyable she said.
That activity could be one of many options, whether it is golf, tennis, swimming, or yoga.
But being at a gym isn’t always the way people want to get their exercise. Some stay in and work out at home, others go outside in the fresh air to get in their exercise. Lawrence resident Kimberly Hanshaw, 46, said she tries to walk in a park or around town everyday.
“I usually walk at least a mile a day providing the weather is nice,” Hanshaw said. “I enjoy it, and my dog Lexi enjoys walking along side of me.”
- Video of Ginger Vermooten, a 75-year-old woman who participates in taekwondo in Lawrence, Kan.
NATHAN FORDYCE: Martial Arts is an activity that usually consists of younger kids and teenagers. At the American Taekwondo Association in Lawrence, Kansas the participants are trying to improve on strength, speed and flexibility. But not often does a 75-year-old woman participate in the activity. Lawrence resident Ginger Vermooten is just that. She’s kicking it with a younger crowd and enjoys doing it.
GINGER VERMOOTEN: ” Oh it’s good exercise, learning things I didn’t think I could do. It’s a lot of fun, completely crazy.”
FORDYCE: Vermooten has been apart of martial arts for over a decade.
VERMOOTEN: “I started training here about eight and half years ago. Previous to that, I had trained in traditional, a different traditional style for about six years I think. And I did, about six years of traditional karate before we moved up from Texas.”
FORDYCE: The way she got involved with martial arts is because her son was light on his feet.
VERMOOTEN: “My son was the only little boy in Midland, Texas during the Orkland 80 oil boom that took ballet. And so when he was six, we got him into martial arts and within a couple of years, everybody was in.”
FORDYCE: This is Nathan Fordyce reporting for Sport them J’s.