Archive for category aging

Hiroshi Hoketsu Is A Better Olympic Horseback Rider At 70 than At 40

Hiroshi Hoketsu, age 71, is this Olympics' oldest competitor


The female gymnasts are often children, just 15 or 16 years old. But here is a story by Martin Rogers about the oldest competitor in this year’s Olympics, a Japanese equestrian who is 71. Most impressive is that he says “I am a better rider at 70 than I was at 40.”

The oldest competitor at the 2012 Olympic Games has revealed the extraordinary sacrifices he has made in order to remain a medal contender well past retirement age.

Hiroshi Hoketsu, who will represent Japan in the equestrian discipline of dressage at the age of 71, told Yahoo! Sports how chasing a slice of history and becoming the oldest Olympian in the last 92 years is the result of a fanatical commitment to the sport.

“I have not seen my wife, Motoko, for more than a year,” said Hoketsu, who lives and trains in the German town of Aachen in order to team up with his horse, Whisper, and his Dutch coach. “It is difficult to be away from home for this long as an old man and I owe everything to her patience and understanding.”

Hoketsu will take part in his third Olympics, 48 years after making his debut and finishing 40th as a show jumper on home soil at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Despite continuing to rise at 5 a.m. every day to ride horses, he quit competing and became a successful international businessman for pharmaceutical companies.

After hanging up his business suit and briefcase, Hoketsu still had the itch to compete and entered the world of competitive dressage at his wife’s insistence. At the time, neither predicted his comeback would result in qualification for the Beijing Games four years ago and now the London Games.

Hoketsu credits his performances to dedication and a bond with his mount that he describes as “magical.” He has become a star in his homeland and a poster boy for the elderly.

Although Hoketsu rises early every morning and attacks practice sessions with as much zeal as riders young enough to be his grandchildren, he confesses he does not adhere to the dietary regimen you might expect from an Olympic athlete.

“I eat what I want to eat and drink as much as I want to drink,” said Hoketsu through an interpreter. “People might expect that I am able to participate for so long because I have special habits. But my secret is to have a good life, enjoy yourself and do the things that make you happy.

“Having said that, I am out there riding horses every day for several hours. Then I come back in and do many exercises, to help with my strength, coordination, and, most importantly, my balance.”

Hoketsu is the oldest Olympian since Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn won bronze at the age of 72 at the 1920 Antwerp Games and would ride into the record books if he was able to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

Such an outcome is unlikely, but don’t rule it out just yet.

“My wife would like for this to be my last year of competition and that will probably be the case,” Hoketsu said. “But I still feel my riding is improving, little by little. That is my motivation. I am a better rider at 70 than I was at 40. Most people can’t tell but my body is getting a little weaker. My horse knows it and she helps me.”

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Problems In Taking Your Own Abs Photos

Too funny. A friend is getting in shape partly by having a personal trainer visit his house twice a week. He has been to this site and complained to me that he has so much white hair on his chest that you can’t see his abs. In desperation he decided to slick down his fur with oil to make any possible cut lines visible. However he couldn’t find any baby oil or other greasy product to do the trick.

So off he went to the kitchen shelf to choose Mazzola cooking oil. Picture him smelling like a corn cob trying to take a photo in the mirror! He said no shots came out to his satisfaction, so we will have to use our imaginations. Aren’t some older folks innovative, creative and downright ridiculous??? Although what is really wrong with corn oil? Maybe it doesn’t go rancid, like olive oil…

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Tamae Watanabe Is Oldest Woman To Climb Mt. Everest As 3 Die

summit photo of Tamae (left?)—5/19/2012

While watching the Celtics lose to the Heat, the commentators said that the three leading Boston players were so old (four top players are 36, 36, 34, 27) that they ran out of gas in the fourth quarter of the seventh game. Same comment about old man Federer (31) not able to keep up with the young bucks Djokovic and Nadal (25 and 26). That is partly what makes this story so impressive…that a woman in her 70’s is able to keep up with climbers half her age and less, while defying death on the mountain.

KATMANDU, Nepal — A 73-year-old Japanese woman climbed to Mount Everest’s peak Saturday, May 19, 2012, smashing her own record to again become the oldest woman to scale the world’s highest mountain.

Tamae Watanabe had climbed Everest in 2002 at the age of 63 to become the oldest woman to scale the mountain, beating the 50-year-old record holder at that time. She had retained the title until she topped herself a decade later. Amazingly she found it a bit more challenging this time, because she broke her back in 2005!

a few days after Tamae's historic climb

May is considered the best month to climb Everest, when climbers get about two windows of good weather for their bid for the summit. Unfortunately, so many climbers make the attempt at this time that there are bottlenecks, slowing down some ascents, and then people come down from the summit too late in the day or night. On May 19th this year, when Tamae set her latest record, three climbers died attempting to reach the peak.

The first clear weather conditions of the spring climbing season were Friday and Saturday, but a windstorm swept the higher altitudes of the mountain by Saturday afternoon. An estimated 150 climbers reached the summit on either day, most of them on Saturday.

There was a traffic jam on the mountain on Saturday. Climbers were still heading to the summit as late as 2:30 p.m. which is quite dangerous. Climbers are advised to not attempt to reach the summit after 11 a.m. The area above the last camp at South Col is nicknamed the “death zone” because of the steep icy slope, treacherous conditions and low oxygen level.

With the traffic jam, climbers had a longer wait for their chance to go up the trail and spent too much time at higher altitude. Many of them are believed to be carrying limited amount of oxygen not anticipating the extra time spent. The three climbers who died Saturday were believed to have suffered exhaustion and altitude sickness.

The oldest person to climb Everest is a Nepalese man, Min Bahadur Sherchan, who climbed Everest in 2008 at the age of 76.

fantastic achievement

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Bummed Out And Guilty For Being Alive

David Byrd and two of his famous posters

You know I want to live as long as I can, but in a fit and healthy condition…so I can be active and not whine often like older others about their doctors and disabilities.

On April 27th, I went to the Museum of Bethel Woods, the site of the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. An artist friend from high school AND college, David Byrd, was having a retrospective of his posters—he did one for the Festival and many for Broadway shows like Godspell, Follies, and Jesus Christ Superstar—and I hadn’t seen him since the eighties.

(left to rt) Jolino, Ira, David, Michael

My college roommate, Michael Futterman, who had also known David at school, met us there, along with David’s friend, Jolino. It was a great little reunion, being together in the midst of David’s work plus all the videos, mementos and photos of the Woodstock weekend that changed the world. The mud-spattered, often-naked, hippie, drugged-out bodies. A generation with great hopes for peace and optimism. David admitted he spent a lot of his Festival time under the stage…cold, hungry, wet and miserable. But the music was great!!

I was still glad the next day that we had survived so long and reconnected, although we had talked about common friends who were gone. Then I received a phone call informing me that just as we were reminiscing at Bethel Woods, another high school classmate had died in a hospice. A few days later I learned that still another high school classmate’s husband of 53 years had also just died on the 28th. Both men fought long losing battles with cancer.

While I am smiling and hugging old friends, while I am exercising, watching cholesterol and improving my tennis, others I know or friends know…are sick, and dying. Lives over. Bums me out. I’ve been sort of numb for two weeks. I feet guilty for still being alive.

dinner with high school friends...Gary second from left—10/2011

Gary Brooks was a rear-echelon military lawyer in a helicopter brigade in Vietnam, but volunteered to fly for over 100 hours in rescue missions. He was exposed to Agent Orange, contracted cancer and died from it. Not fair that such courage and generosity is rewarded so harshly. I was upset that he looked so frail at a dinner last October, though he was humorous, vital and energetic. He did tell me about the cancer and how it started. He also sang a long funny song he wrote about a she-eagle who fell in love with a Huey Helicopter. Helluva lawyer.

My friend, Flora Mason, wrote beautifully about her husband’s dying: “We faced the challenge of his illness together and walked with him on his last steps in life’s journey. It was a privilege, not a duty.” How magnificent to not think of all that caring and effort as a burden.

I am sad that we humans, like all other organic creatures and matter, wear out and die…unless before that we are stepped on by a dinosaur or crushed by a falling piano. Life is such a treasure, a gift. We who are surviving can only be grateful at the opportunity to make the most of the time we have. We make money, clothe and house ourselves, love a few friends and family members, influence and help some strangers, and pray that we do not become so sick or injured that we can’t function.

Muscles, fitness and good health seem petty to me sometimes. Until I see those who don’t have them speeding faster than I toward our graves.

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Kathy Martin Keeps Breaking Running Records

Here is a story about Kathy Martin, a 60-year-old Long island, NY real estate broker who began running when she was 30 and then, “sometime in her late 40s…discovered…she was one of the most remarkable female distance runners in the world…

Last November, in the Philadelphia half-marathon, she finished in 1:28:28, 44th out of 5,888 women. She easily won the 60-to-64 age bracket; only three of her peers were in the top 2,000. Her time was so fast she would have finished sixth among women 30 to 34…

Distance running is more popular than ever. Running USA, a nonprofit organization that promotes the sport, counted 13 million finishers in road races in 2010, up from 5.2 million in 1991 and 500,000 in 1976. Much of the rise comes from aging baby boomers, building their stamina like a retirement nest egg. In 2010, 45 percent of all finishers were 40 or older; in 1991, the percentage was 35 percent, in 1976 only 28 percent.

Recent medical research shows that many of the ravages of aging are not so much inevitable as voluntary. Muscles do not have to shrivel, joints do not have to stiffen. Earlier expectations of physical deterioration were based on studies of sedentary people. But there is a marked difference in durability between the fat and the fit, the layers and the players. People who continue to exercise intensively have a much slower rate of decline…

Martin usually works out seven days a week, not four or five. She runs and does plyometric exercises that emphasize strength and speed. She eats sensibly though not fanatically….

Her face looks young for 60, and her legs have the muscle tone of an athlete half her age…“I hope I do this until the day I die,” she said. “I want to be all used up, just a wisp of dust left.”

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Johanna Quaas Is World’s Oldest Gymnast At 86

Johanna does moves at 86 that most of us could never do

A friend once said that I have a site for old people. Sort of annoyed me. When I see athletically fit old people—and 86 is definitely old and not middle aged—it gives me the inspiration to keep on acting like a younger person. If the oldsters can do it, no matter how rare or exceptional, then maybe I can be one of them too. And if the youngsters mind their diet and develop healthy habits, they will enjoy the vitality of capable bodies much longer than if they think it will all be ok without paying attention.

I do admit that it looks strange to see this old German Granny, white hair and wrinkles, performing tricks that I couldn’t do at 24. But watch her do the moves…She must have good abs!

COTTBUS, Germany–Gymnast Johanna Quaas, 86, performed an impressive parallel bar and floor demonstration after finals concluded at Germany’s Cottbus Challenger Cup – setting the new world record for the Oldest Gymnast, according to World Records Academy: www.worldrecordsacademy.org/.

Displaying balance, strength and flexiblity that would be the envy of someone a quarter her age, Quaas’s floor routine included a handstand forward roll, cartwheel, backward roll and headstand, while on the bars she performed a full planche, holding her body taught and parallel to the ground.

A multiple-time senior champion of artistic gymnastics in Germany, Quaas, from Halle in Saxony only took up gymnastics when she was 30, putting an end to the belief that the sport is the preserve of the young.

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Really Really Really Old Athletes

My friend Marc Sokolik, who wins medals in Senior Olympics each year, sent me this video about the 300,000 seniors who are still active, athletic, and competing enthusiastically. I know some of these shots are of old folks looking old. But when you are 100 and still winning tennis points, or pole vaulting at 86…what the hell. Let’s cut these old timers some slack. As one guy said, “most people my age are six feet under the ground.”

And it is definitely inspiring to me to stay with my sports as long as I am alive. Although I am so in love with tennis and other activities that I don’t really need much inspiration. It all feels too good, especially when I hit sweet spot winners at the net and flummox the 55-year-olds who can’t believe they just lost.

This clip is actually a trailer for the full-length PBS documentary called Age of Champions. One athlete says it’s great to just play and compete at their age. His buddy disagrees and says “winning is everything.” What do you think? Is it enough to just play, even if you lose, when you are in your 80’s or 90’s?

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Exercise Is Your Fountain Of Youth

Here is one more article spelling out that you don’t have to age so much physically as you get older. Although the study was of lifelong athletes who train four or five times a week, their muscle mass and capabilities do not deteriorate so much over time. Here are some excerpts:

Is physical frailty inevitable as we grow older?…people don’t have to lose muscle mass and function as they grow older. The changes that we’ve assumed were due to aging and therefore were unstoppable seem actually to be caused by inactivity. And that can be changed…

There was little evidence of deterioration in the older athletes’ musculature, however. The athletes in their 70s and 80s had almost as much thigh muscle mass as the athletes in their 40s, with minor if any fat infiltration. The athletes also remained strong. There was, as scientists noted, a drop-off in leg muscle strength around age 60 in both men and women. They weren’t as strong as the 50-year-olds, but the differential was not huge, and little additional decline followed. The 70- and 80-year-old athletes were about as strong as those in their 60s…

“What we can say with certainty is that any activity is better than none,” Dr. Wright says, “and more is probably better than less. But the bigger message is that it looks as if how we age can be under our control.

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Minimal Exercise Can Keep Your Brain Fit

Here are excerpts from another thoughtful NYTimes article by Gretchen Reynolds. Of course most people don’t pay attention to this advice. I have had to accept that even friends and family members who hear about my diet and activities and even complain about their poor exercise and eating habits generally cannot make themselves change their behavior. Just the way I know that I will gain muscle mass if I lift weights and do more strenuous exercise than just tennis…but I lack the willpower and discipline to stay with it.

In my case I can rationalize that I am tired from tennis or not suffering in my daily life from excess body weight. I am clearly motivated to stay as fit as possible as I age, so that I can enjoy my elder years. But many younger people under 30 I know cannot care about their distant futures, and many middle-aged people I know are “living in the now” as well, unwilling to think that the consequences of junk food, poor diet and minimal exercise are worth giving up for possible future gain. I force myself to keep quiet all the time when they suddenly have their day of reckoning and learn that they need surgery, suffer unnecessary injury, or wonder how they gained 20 pounds and why they are so tired from so little physical effort.

For those of us hoping to keep our brains fit and healthy well into middle age and beyond…activity appears to be critical…Canadian researchers measured the energy expenditure and cognitive functioning of a large group of elderly adults over the course of two to five years. Most of the volunteers did not exercise, per se, and almost none worked out vigorously. Their activities generally consisted of “walking around the block, cooking, gardening, cleaning.” But even so, the effects of this modest activity on the brain were remarkable. While the wholly sedentary volunteers, and there were many of these, scored significantly worse over the years on tests of cognitive function, the most active group showed little decline. About 90 percent of those with the greatest daily energy expenditure could think and remember just about as well, year after year. the results indicate that vigorous exercise isn’t necessary” to protect your mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nyad Ends Attempt To Swim A Record

optimism at the start of the attempt—8/7/11

exhaustion at the end—8/9/11

Wind conditions, shoulder pain and “less than ideal currents” prompted marathon swimmer Diana Nyad to end her second bid to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys about halfway through her journey early today. Yet she deserves enormous credit just for making the attempt and staying with it as long as she did.
Before the swim, Nyad, age 61, told journalists she hoped her swim would inspire others her age to live active lives. She said she also hoped it could help improve understanding between Cold War rivals Cuba and the United States, even if just symbolically.

Nyad was pulled from the water after 29 hours. The swim was expected to take 60 hours to cover at least 103 miles (166 kilometers).

Nyad said that as early as the third hour of her journey she began experiencing pain in her right shoulder. By hour 15, asthma was a problem. As hour 28 approached, the pain was so great that Diana had to rest every three or four freestlye strokes, rolling onto her back to breathe. She was also nauseous early on.

“I’m hurting, I’m hurting,” Nyad told her doctor, clutching the shoulder and looking to the stars. Then, she’d turn back into the water, struggling through another stroke or two, pushing and pushing and pushing.

“It felt like this was my moment,” Nyad said. “I don’t feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck.”

In her second attempt, Nyad tried to accomplish at 61 years old what she failed to do at 28 in 1978. This time, she even attempted the swim without a shark cage, relying instead on an electrical field from equipment towed by kayakers to keep them at bay.

In her first attempt in 1978, she quit after being in the water for 41 hours and 49 minutes due to strong currents and rough weather that banged her around in the shark cage.

Had the latest attempt been successful, Nyad would have broken her own record of 102.5 miles (165 kilometers) for a cageless, open-sea swim, set in 1979 when she stroked from the Bahamas to Florida.

Here is another article detailing the swim and its premature finish. I like some of her thoughts mentioned in it:

“I’m almost 62 years old,” she declared. “I’m standing here at the prime of my life; I think this is the prime, when one reaches this age. You still have a body that’s strong, but now you have a better mind.”

On Tuesday morning, she said that her goal had been to demonstrate to people in their 60s that “life is not over” and that the age of “60 is the new 40.”

She added that she hopes her quest might inspire others her age to begin energizing their lives with exercise. “Life goes by so quickly and, at my age, you really feel the passage of time,” she said. “People my age must try to live vital, energetic lives. We’re still young. We’re not our mothers’ generation at 60.”

For people over 60, she said, the goal should be “to live a life with no regrets and no worries about what you are going to do with your time. Fill it with passion. Be your best self.”

Diana Nyad Is Swimming Right Now For Another Open-Water Record

Here is an inspiring article about Diana Nyad, a 61-year-old American endurance swimmer who just jumped into Cuban waters yesterday evening and set off in a bid to become the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without the aid of a shark cage.

Nyad said it has been a lifelong dream and she hopes her feat, if successful, will inspire people to live vigorously during their golden years. She first had a go at this crossing as a 28-year-old back in 1978, when she swam inside a steel shark cage for about 42 hours before sea currents hammering her off course put an end to that attempt.

The following year she set a world record for open-water swimming without a shark cage, charting 102.5 miles (165 kilometers) from the Bahamas to Florida before retiring from competitive endurance swimming. This distance record for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit still stands today. She also broke numerous world records, including the 45-year-old mark for circling Manhattan Island (7 hrs, 57 min) in 1975.

Still, she said the aborted Cuba attempt stuck with her all these years, and upon turning 60, she started thinking about a comeback. “Until a year ago, I hadn’t swum a stroke for 31 years,” Nyad said on her website.

“Swimmer’s burnout gripped me to the point that I could have sworn I would never, ever swim a lap again in my life. But approaching 60 last year threw me into the existential angst of wondering what I had done with my life. I felt choked by how little time seemed left. I started swimming a few laps, just to take some pressure off the knees from all the other activities I enjoy.”

For the record to be considered valid, Nyad will have to make the swim without a wetsuit. Her crew will navigate, monitor her health and provide nourishment. But she is not allowed to touch the boat, nor can her helpers hold her, until she emerges fully onto dry land. Even that could be a challenge in Florida’s mangrove thickets, exhausted and with no land legs after 2½ days of swimming.

She plans to stop every 45 minutes for 20-second hydration breaks—water, juice, sports drinks. Every 90 minutes she’ll rest for 2 minutes and nibble on bread or a spoonful of peanut butter.

You can follow her progress with a CNN crew that is in a chase boat by going here .

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When It Comes To Longevity, Genes May Trump Behavior

This long NYTimes article describes the activities of 87-year-old David Murdock, a billionaire who has used his wealth to do major laboratory research on how to live a healthy life and all the way to age 125. He never gets sick, although his hearing is going. Described throughout are what he eats and how he lives. At the end of the article, some doctors claim that it all has to do with your genes, which “trump behavior,” that no one has ever lived to 125, and there are some things, like overeating, that will kill you earlier than your genetic potential.

If this is accurate, that “no documented intervention has been shown to radically extend duration of life—ever,” according to a doctor quoted in the story, then does it make sense to deny yourself all those good foods and subject yourself to all those difficult exercises? That’s a personal choice. I still feel that for however long I am destined to survive by my genetic inheritance, I’d like to live as actively as I can, with high energy and vitality and without self-created illness.

“Murdock’s methods are utterly mainstream, an example of extraordinary discipline rather than frontier science…and a plant-based diet that’s low in animal fat while still allowing for protein sources beyond legumes has emerged as the consensus recommendation of most medical professionals.”

When he developed a rare and unfamiliar sore throat. He went crazy wondering what went wrong…that sore throat wasn’t just an irritant. It was a challenge to the whole gut-centered worldview on which his bid for extreme longevity rests. “I went back in my mind: what am I not eating enough of?” he told me. Definitely not fruits and vegetables: he crams as many as 20 of them, including pulverized banana peels and the ground-up rinds of oranges, into the smoothies he drinks two to three times a day, to keep his body brimming with fiber and vitamins. Probably not protein: he eats plenty of seafood, egg whites, beans and nuts to compensate for his avoidance of dairy, red meat and poultry, which are consigned to a list of forbidden foods that also includes alcohol, sugar and salt.

He is careful to get a little bit of daily sun, which is crucial for proper absorption of vitamin D, but not too much, lest he court skin cancer. He tries to go to bed no later than 11 p.m. and to get more than six hours of sleep every night. Perhaps the only real eyebrow raiser in his regimen is his rejection of any medicine that isn’t truly necessary. When he had that sore throat, he didn’t suck on a lozenge or swallow aspirin. When he has had precancerous growths removed from his face, he has passed on anesthetics.

“I just turned my brain on and said, ‘Cut!’ ” he said. “Of course it hurt. But I controlled that.”

The doctors who work with Murdock say that he has ideal blood pressure, clear arteries, good muscle tone. They point out that he didn’t adopt his healthful ways until his 60s.

The life expectancy for an American man born today is only 75½, and demographic data suggest that an American man who has made it to 87 can expect, on average, another 5¼ years. The longest life span on record is 122½, and that belonged to a woman. Her closest male competitors reached only 115½.

As for beating those statistics? The doctors are skeptical. I still think it’s good to have a lofty goal, even if it is unattainable. Not so bad if he falls short by 10 years. If he only goes for 100, he might make it “just” to 93…

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Some Benefits Of Exercise You Hadn’t Thought About

Here is another NYTimes article that promises the fountain of youth if you just drink some exercise. It’s based on research of mice that is supposedly and hopefully extrapolatory to humans.

Even before I began this site, I was certain that exercise is good for your health. Seems so obvious, even if I couldn’t make myself do regular exercise in past decades. Lots of good excuses. So now I am going to give you incredible excerpts from this article that should make even the youngest person motivated to do something active many times a week. And I am not making fun of the evidence in the article, nor its author, Gretchen Reynolds. I just can’t help finding the humor in some of these conclusions.

“…While Dr. Tarnopolsky, a lifelong athlete, noted with satisfaction that active, aged mice kept their hair, his younger graduate students were far more interested in the animals’ robust gonads. Their testicles and ovaries hadn’t shrunk, unlike those of sedentary elderly mice.

Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said…

By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. Listless, they barely moved around their cages. All were dead before reaching a year of age.

Except the mice that exercised.

Half of the mice were allowed to run on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week, beginning at 3 months. These rodent runners were required to maintain a fairly brisk pace, Dr. Tarnopolsky said: “It was about like a person running a 50- or 55-minute 10K.” (A 10K race is 6.2 miles.) The mice continued this regimen for five months.

At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. Their gonads were normal, as were their hearts. They could balance on narrow rods, the showoffs…

Other studies, including a number from Dr. Tarnopolsky’s own lab, have also found that exercise affects the course of aging, but none has shown such a comprehensive effect. And precisely how exercise alters the aging process remains unknown…

Although there is probably a threshold amount of exercise that is necessary to affect physiological aging, Dr. Tarnopolsky said, “anything is better than nothing.” If you haven’t been active in the past, he continued, start walking five minutes a day, then begin to increase your activity level.”

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Hurricane Hazel Has Played Hockey Since The 1920′s!

Wonder how those pro athletes past their prime make it through life? Here is a charming and adorable story that should serve as an inspiration for us all. This woman is incredible. Watch her handle the puck and knock down duck pins. She still rides a bike and is more active than most people half her age.

Hazel still handles a puck

Hazel McCallion, age 89, is the mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, the sixth-largest city in Canada (population of 734,000) and the fourth most populous city on the Great Lakes, surpassing both Milwaukee and Cleveland. McCallion has been Mississauga’s mayor for 32 years, holding office since 1978. She is affectionately called “Hurricane Hazel” by supporters as well as the media at large for her vibrant outspoken style of no-nonsense politics. She was easily reelected in October 2010 for her 12th consecutive term of running a DEBT-FREE city!

Hazel began playing hockey in the late 1920s and later, with her two older sisters playing defense, took her spot as a lightning quick center on a team in a ladies’ league. After moving to Montreal, she turned “professional,” earning $5 a game to play for Kik Cola, one of three teams in a ladies’ league there. Since first being elected as mayor of Mississauga, Hazel has been able to spread her influence into other hockey-related areas, including sitting on the board of the Ontario Women’s Hockey League, obtaining icetime for girls’ hockey and helping Mississauga build the Hershey Centre. In 1998, Hazel McCallion assisted a group headed by hockey personality Don Cherry secure a franchise for the Mississauga IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League.

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Jane Fonda, 72, Makes Exercise Video For Seniors

Jane Fonda on the cover of V magazine’s “Who Cares About Age” issue

Jane Fonda’s latest foray into the world of fitness is directly related to aging—the 72-year-old celebrity decided to create another exercise DVD while researching her upcoming book, Prime Time: How to Have a Great Third Act.

“In the research that I did, it really struck me that it’s one thing to exercise or not exercise when you’re young; your body’s forgiving. It’s important, it’s good, it’s not a big deal,” she says. “When you get older, it becomes mandatory to stay physically active. If you don’t, almost every part of your physical being is going to be impacted negatively.”

The DVD series, which is also called “Jane Fonda: Prime Time,” consists of two titles so far: Fit & Strong and Walk Out. They were created with the senior viewer in mind—the moves are low impact, and many can be done while the person is seated.

While fitness videos are part of an already robust $60 billion weight-loss market, Fonda thinks that hers addresses an overlooked demographic. “There’s a plethora of videos, but there’s nothing targeting older people,” she says. “The videos that I saw were very good, but not something I could do. And if I can’t do them . . .” The need for serious videos targeted toward aging boomers led her to get back into her leotards. “I thought I would never, ever do this again, but [then] I thought I would get back in, because I’m old, I have credibility in this arena, and no one’s targeting this demographic.”

After all, Fonda may have won an Oscar, she may be part of an American acting dynasty, but she’s also synonymous with at-home exercise. After writing fitness books, she was approached by Stuart Karl, the videocassette pioneer, to take her message to tape. Though she initially resisted, her first video went on to become the bestselling of all time, and in turn helped popularize home videos. “I had no idea that this had never been done, that it was going to create a whole industry,” she says. “I’m really, really proud that I came up with a product that women said, I’ve got to own this because I have to do it over and over and over again. I’m extremely proud. I think it made a big difference. I didn’t realize how important it was for women and some men to do this in the privacy of their own home.”

While her body still looks fabulous and her face is less lined than most, Fonda is not immune to the ravages of age. She has an artificial hip and titanium knee, and she’s no longer as limber as she once was. Her current routine involves long hikes around her New Mexico ranch, low-impact cardio on the recumbent bike and elliptical machines, weights, and stretching—though she admits to going weeks sometimes without exercise. But she says that the cumulative effects of a lifelong devotion to fitness are evident. “Every time I get out of the car, this thought comes into my mind, ‘Thank God, Jane, you’ve done this work. Thank God you can get out of a car without getting help,’” she says, noting that she’s still aware of her limitations. “Do I do it fast? No. If I have to cross the street, do I run? No. Do I watch where I walk very carefully? You’d better believe it, sister.”

Fonda, who admits to having terrible balance, devotes a lot of the video to moves that would prevent falls in senior citizens, as well as routines, such as Kegel exercises, that help prevent incontinence. That’s hardly the advice you’d expect from the lady in leopard-print couture, but Fonda doesn’t care. “Given the other things I’ve done in my life, do you think I’m going to shy away from talking about a Kegel?” she says. “No one else is doing it, and yet these are very real problems.”

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Fears And Benefits To Living Until You’re Old

Is there a benefit to living long if your brain functions fine, but your body’s all used up? What if your body is still usable, but your mind has ceased to work? Those are some questions Susan Jacoby asks in this NY Times article . Here are some excerpts to think about…while your mind is still able to perform. Personally I think of these choices as high class problems…at least you have lived lots of years and hopefully enjoyed many many pleasures

…Yet people my age (she’s 65) and younger still pretend that old age will yield to what has long been our generational credo — that we can transform ourselves endlessly, even undo reality, if only we live right. “Age-defying” is a modifier that figures prominently in advertisements for everything from vitamins and beauty products to services for the most frail among the “old old,” as demographers classify those over 85.

…Members of the “forever young” generation…prefer to think about aging as a controllable experience.

…Furthermore, I am acutely aware — and this is the difference between hope and expectation — that my plans depend, above all, on whether I am lucky enough to retain a working brain.

…Contrary to what the baby boom generation prefers to believe, there is almost no scientifically reliable evidence that “living right” — whether that means exercising, eating a nutritious diet or continuing to work hard — significantly delays or prevents Alzheimer’s.

…Good health habits and strenuous intellectual effort are beneficial in themselves, but they will not protect us from a silent, genetically influenced disaster that might already be unfolding in our brains. I do not have the slightest interest in those new brain scans or spinal fluid tests that can identify early-stage Alzheimer’s. What is the point of knowing that you’re doomed if there is no effective treatment or cure?

…I would rather share the fate of my maternal forebears — old old age with an intact mind in a ravaged body — than the fate of my other grandmother (who died of Alzheimer’s). But the cosmos is indifferent to my preferences, and it is chilling to think about becoming helpless in a society that affords only the most minimal support for those who can no longer care for themselves. So I must plan, as best I can, for the unthinkable.

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Dieting Advice From A High School Friend Who Just Died

Kay Robbins in high school around 1958

I learned yesterday that a girl I went with to our senior prom had died the day before “of a stroke during a routine doctor’s visit.” I hadn’t seen or talked to Kay since our last high school reunion three years ago. Her lifelong commitment to the gym had kept her in seemingly buoyant shape. She was energetic and clever as always. She was easily recognizable as the girl I knew from the 50’s, unlike some other friends from my teens. I have no idea if she had any illnesses or health issues. She was not thin, but most grandmas of 69 have put on a few pounds over the years.

I write these words while she is being buried in Miami. I am definitely stunned by the suddenness of her departure, as are many classmates who have commented on our school web site. I am hearing stories of people who were major athletes and died suddenly at much younger years. One tale today was about a 40-year-old man playing paddle tennis who was told a joke between games and literally died while he was laughing. That same storyteller told me how he’d seen an 86-year-old die after a game on the very same tennis court we were playing on. Some friends think it’s better to go suddenly, unexpectedly, rather than suffer painfully over years.

You know I am all for fitness and good health. I want to live longer and healthier. But most importantly, in a youthful way, not an old man’s exit hugging the couch and my drink, while watching TV. I watch what I eat instead and strive to keep my muscles toned, even defined, and my heart pumping rapidly through sport. It turns out I am lucky that I did not wear out my body all those years that I was working in an office, unlike my friend I lunched with on Tuesday who has been running and playing racket sports all his life, but is now suffering with hurt knees that need surgeries and couldn’t take the stop-and-start strains of tennis or squash.

Kay Rosenfeld giving advice as Bubbe around 2005

For years Kay wrote an advice column for the Miami Herald that was called “Bubbe Says.” Bubbe means grandmother in Yiddish, and Kay’s witty wisdom was proffered cleverly and directly. Here is one of her old responses involving the importance—or not—of weight loss. Enjoy her advice and also her skill with words:

WHY ALL THE AGONY OVER THOSE 10 POUNDS THAT WON’T COME OFF?

Dear Bubbe,

My problem is my weight. For the past 10 years, I have been trying to lose the same 10 pounds. I have gone on every diet on the planet, spent thousands of hours in the gym, but I can never get it off and keep it off.

I am turning 50 this month and I wanted to hit the magic number with a smaller one on the scale. Any advice?

— Heavy Hearted, Kendall

Dear Heavy,

Yeah, my advice is to lighten up.

With frenetic lifestyles and no time or energy to cook at home, we are big on fast food and supersized portions, which equals supersized people. Thousands of books tell us how to get it off, TV offers up The Biggest Loser, Oprah’s in great shape (this year), and Kirstie Alley keeps asking if we’ve called Jennie yet. (No. Now go away.)

We’ve gone as far as surgically removing parts of our stomachs. We lipo away the pounds. There is now talk of making Xenical, a prescription fat blocker, an over-the-counter drug.

We may be obsessed, but we are still obese.

Consider this: If you lost that final 10 pounds, how would your life change? It wouldn’t change a whit. In fact, you might not even go down a size. All that agonizing—and for what?

Listen, 10 pounds or no 10 pounds, most people will never look like a Vogue supermodel, particularly at 50 and probably not at 25. Vogue supermodels don’t even look like that in real life without airbrushing.

So don’t take all the enjoyment out of one of life’s greatest, most sensual pleasures. People can quit smoking and give up the booze, but they really can’t stop eating. (Anorexics, take heed.)

If you can possibly give yourself permission to eat a healthy diet—most things in moderation and some artery clogging, apply-directly-to-hips good garbage on occasion—by not obsessing, you might gain a little perspective and lose a few pounds. Or not.

You can read more about Kay and some of her published columns here .

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How To Stay Youthful And Healthy As You Age: Hard Exercise

Recently read a NY Times article about Olga Kotelko, 91,who is shattering track-and-field records—in her age group—and testing theories about aging. Check out this adorable video of her in which she says, “I don’t want to start another new career. I want to hang on to this one.” She is being studied like an alien to find out why she is still so youthful and able to amass hundreds of athletic gold medals for her age. What makes her different? Special muscles? Unique motivation? A very interesting six-page story. I have extracted some of the highlights that anyone of any age can relate to. It really points to the benefits of exercise for good health and youthful life. And it emphasizes what many people have realized is my own obsession—not just to live longer, but to live healthfully and actively…

…scientists like Taivassalo and Hepple have a different goal, and exercise — elixir not so much of extended life as extended youthfulness — may be the key to reaching it. James Fries, an emeritus professor at Stanford School of Medicine, coined the working buzz phrase: “compression of morbidity.” You simply erase chronic illness and infirmity from the first, say, 95 percent of your life. “So you’re healthy, healthy, healthy, and then at some point you kick the bucket,” Tarnopolsky says. “It’s like the Neil Young song: better to burn out than to rust.” You get a normal life span, but in Olga years. Who wouldn’t take it?

…You don’t have to be an athlete to notice how ruthlessly age hunts and how programmed the toll seems to be. We start losing wind in our 40s and muscle tone in our 50s. Things go downhill slowly until around age 75, when something alarming tends to happen.

“There’s a slide I show in my physical-activity-and-aging class,” Taivassalo says. “You see a shirtless fellow holding barbells, but I cover his face. I ask the students how old they think he is. I mean, he could be 25. He’s just ripped. Turns out he’s 67. And then in the next slide there’s the same man at 78, in the same pose. It’s very clear he’s lost almost half of his muscle mass, even though he’s continued to work out. So there’s something going on.” But no one knows exactly what. Muscle fibers ought in theory to keep responding to training. But they don’t. Something is applying the brakes.

…when you hear the stories of older senior athletes, a common thread does emerge. While most younger masters athletes were jocks in college if not before, many competitors in the higher brackets—say, older than age 70—have come to the game late. They weren’t athletes earlier in life because of the demands of career and their own growing families. Only after their duties cleared could they tend that other fire.

…Exercise has been shown to add between six and seven years to a life span (and improve the quality of life in countless ways). Any doctor who didn’t recommend exercise would be immediately suspect. But for most seniors, that prescription is likely to be something like a daily walk or Aquafit. It’s not quarter-mile timed intervals or lung-busting fartleks (a training technique, used esp. among runners, consisting of bursts of intense effort loosely alternating with less strenuous activity). There’s more than a little suffering in the difference.

…Yet if there’s a single trend in the research into exercise and gerontology, it’s that we have underestimated what old folks are capable of, from how high their heart rates can safely climb to how deeply into old age they can exercise with no major health risks.

…Motivation may ultimately be the issue. Finding reasons to keep exercising is a universal challenge. Even rats seem to bristle, eventually, at voluntary exercise, studies suggest. Young rats seem intrinsically driven to run on the wheels you put in their cages. But one day those wheels just stop turning. The aging athlete must manufacture strategies to keep pushing in the face of plenty of perfectly rational reasons not to: things hurt, you’ve achieved a lot of your goals and the friends you used to do it for and with are disappearing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Progress And Discipline For Anyone Who Is Aging

I have been out of town, so not adding stories. But I did set a new record for the number of crunches: 1600 in three sets of 500+500+600 with breaks of 60 seconds and then 90 seconds. These are just lifts from the floor, while my calves are elevated on a couch or medicine ball. I am merely creating tension for my abs, not lifting up even an inch at the end. Still a Personal Best for me…

At my high school reunion, I sat next to a classmate who told me he is in the gym six days a week spinning and working out on the machines 3 to 4 hours a day…an average total of 23 hours a week. He was very scornful of all the overweight and flabby, out-of-shape, 70-year-old bodies he saw hobbling around and dancing. He did look more fit and youthful than the others. But he was too disgusted to say much. I didn’t remember him from the old days…many of the other old-timers looked good from their cycling, one climbed mountains, some played basketball, many still ski, one throws the shotput. It’s all a choice. You make it…

Don’t Think Like Tony Curtis That You Are “Entitled And Deserve” To Win And Succeed

Tony Curtis toward the end—2008

When Tony Curtis died last week at 85, I wondered whose picture was being shown. I just didn’t recognize him. He’d put on many pounds, his face had aged alot and he’d lost his hair. Of course I was frightened for a moment that growing older could look like that for me…although I am fighting it with a better diet, more exercise and no drugs. But what really made me want to include his pictures on this site was his attitude in later years. It reminds me of my own negativity, when I am playing “loser” tennis, and also of others who feel they “deserve” a better life, more skills, or greater talent.

Tony Curtis

We all just have what we have, and can’t do much to change our capabilities or physical aptitudes. We CAN learn new things and improve the gifts we have. Most importantly, we can modify our view of the world and how we react to the bad breaks that fall on us all. But we’re not “entitled” to anything.

Here are excerpts from an article about Tony’s crappy views at the end:

…Curtis spent his dotage, looking back with equal measures of wistfulness, pride and regret on the course his life had taken. A New York street tough originally known as Bernard Schwartz, he rose from domestic abuse and poverty to become a Hollywood pretty boy before becoming a burnout, a drug addict and an outcast seeking some form of redemption and reconciliation.

young Tony

“I don’t feel like I got the movies I should’ve gotten,” Tony said in a 2008 interview.

“I don’t know why I’m so dissatisfied,” confided the star of “Some Like It Hot,” “Spartacus,” “The Defiant Ones” and another 120 films and an artist with work in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “What am I looking for? What am I chasing?”

a pretty boy in his heyday—1960

It’s hard to know. Curtis enjoyed one of those American lives that most would envy. He was a matinee idol who appeared in films with his own idols, from Burt Lancaster to Cary Grant; who enjoyed wild dalliances with the world’s most lusted-after women; who had genuine friendships with a list of Hollywood and Washington royalty…

Tony at home in Nevada


And yet none of that seemed to provide him much comfort. He felt so frustrated by Hollywood that he retired to Las Vegas, where he and sixth wife Jill lived and where she founded a wild horse rescue. He was openly saddened that he did not transition to playing older, wiser parts, the way Paul Newman and Marlon Brando did. He earned just one Oscar nomination in his career, for “The Defiant Ones,” and complained that he had to share that honor with co-star Sidney Poitier, who was also nominated.

“I don’t feel like I got the movies I should’ve gotten,” Curtis said in 2008. “I felt I deserved more than the industry had given me. I felt I should have been considered more, with a little more respect from the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy.”

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Terry Peterson Lost 30 Pounds Riding His Unicycle In His 50’s

I bumped into a video about a 54-year-old who took up unicycling four years ago, lost weight, became fit and now has over 275 videos on his web site . Terry Peterson calls himself UniGeezer, and you should see him do his extreme rides cross country, up stairs, down mountain trails. He’s a real inspiration, and the news broadcasters who interview him all agree he looks half his age.

A really good story about him was written by Tom Berg for the Orange County Register (California) in 2008:

Mountain Biking on One Wheel? Yes!

An alarm rings in most guys’ heads around age 50.

It is nature saying: You know, you won’t live forever!

Some respond with sports cars; some with trophy wives; some join the Peace Corps.

Terry Peterson?

“I said, ‘My God, I cannot button my jeans anymore!’ ” says the professional piano tuner. “It dawned on me I should start exercising.”

Running, however, was out of the question – hard on the knees. Swimming? Inconvenient. Biking? Boring.

“I mulled over the options,” says Peterson, now 52, “and they all seemed boring.”

Until he remembered a short-lived, 1960s fad he tried as a 10-year-old.

Since that day, Peterson’s waistline has shrunk from 35 to 29 inches. His weight dropped from 165 to 140 pounds. His on-line videos elicit responses like: You’re the coolest 52-year-old I’ve ever known!

And he’s virtually dropped the name “Terry.”

When people see him pass now, they point and holler: “Hey, there’s the UniGeezer!”

Pure music to his piano-tuning ears.

AIR

The UniGeezer’s uni-verse is filled with uni-spins, uni-drops and uni-fests. He founded the Uni Psychos club. And he writes uni-poetry. Guess what he rides.

Peterson is not simply in love with unicycling. He is head-over-heals, madly, obsessively, compulsively in love with unicycling; specifically mountain unicycling.

That means no low-gear for going up hill – it’s all direct drive. And no coasting going down hill – again, direct drive. It means knowing how to jump, hop and drop off rocks, roots and ruts.

It means dealing with UPDs (Un-Planned Dismounts), and carving out a line to ride over the obstacles in your path.

“It’s a lot like life,” he says.

“I try not to avoid the obstacles. I like to confront them head-on and get over them.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Aging Doesn’t Have To Look Like This

A friend intended to make me laugh by sending me the three pictures below. He suggested that they are all the same females over a lifetime. The images actually make me angry that some folks let themselves fall apart so badly, increase their odds of sickness or even deadly health, and just lose any interest in being attractive, fit or toned.

The article I posted yesterday explains it all—people are lazy and won’t accept how unfit or fat they really are. And if they do notice, they are unwilling to do much about it. What I hear all the time is “Life is short, so why should I deprive myself of a little pleasure.” (…like some ice cream or tasty meat treat with loads of delicious fat). I have to keep reminding myself that my doctor says I just happen to be able to avoid the foods that are bad for me, while others who are overweight neither can nor want to.

On the other hand, one friend told me last night that he now weighs 189 for the first time in years, and that he has lost 30 to 40 pounds in the last few months. His secret: eat small meals and healthy snacks throughout the whole day instead of skipping breakfast and lunch and gorging himself at a late dinner that barely digests while he is sleeping.

young girls at the beach

teen-age girls at the beach

grandmothers at the beach

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Many Americans Don’t Even Know They’re Fat

First I read an article by Amanda Gardner suggesting that fat people don’t realize they are fat. Then a friend sent me some pictures of females at the beach over a 60 or 70 year period. You can see these above and wonder if aging has to lead to such blubberous decay.

I am including some snippets from the article. The biggest culprit suggested by this poll is that overweight comes from lack of exercise more than bad food. I can easily understand this resistance to exercise. These days I find it almost impossible to “exercise” by lifting weights or driving to the gym. That is boring and tedious. But I have no trouble making myself go to the tennis court—over 42 hours last month. That is fun, and I am eager to play. The article does point out, however, that just walking is considered exercise…you don’t have to make beautifully sculpted muscles.

(HealthDay News) — Many Americans have skewed perceptions when it comes to their weight, often believing they are thinner than they really are, even when the scales are shouting otherwise, a new poll finds.

Thirty percent of those in the “overweight” class believed they were actually normal size, while 70 percent of those classified as obese felt they were simply overweight. Among the heaviest group, the morbidly obese, almost 60 percent pegged themselves as obese, while another 39 percent considered themselves merely overweight.

These findings may help to explain why overweight and obesity rates in the United States continue to go up, experts say.

“While there are some people who have body images in line with their actual Body Mass Index, for many people they are not, and this may be where part of the problem lies,” said Regina Corso, vice president of Harris Poll Solutions. “If they do not recognize the problem or don’t recognize the severity of the problem, they are less likely to do something about it.”

And that means that obesity may be becoming the new norm, raising the specter of increasing rates of health threats such as diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

“I think too many people are unsure of what they should actually weigh,” said Keri Gans, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “For many, they have grown up in a culture were most people are overweight and that is the norm, or they have been surrounded by too many celebrities and fashion in the media and think very thin is the norm.”

Most respondents to the poll who felt they were heavier than they should be blamed sloth, rather than poor eating habits, for their predicament.

“We’re seeing the couch potato stigma [syndrome],” Corso said. “Three out of five Americans overall are saying they don’t exercise as much as they should.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Dangers Of Oldsters Acting Like Youngsters Or…Oldsters

After reading yesterday’s article about older people dancing, a 62-year-old who just fractured his foot walking in France to feed his chickens sent me the following video that laughs cruelly at old people acting like kids…and getting into trouble. It’s an update on the slip-on-a-banana peel cartoon of decades past:

I admit that I smiled and laughed at some of these spills. I mean the people seem so dumb to be trying some of the things they are doing. But maybe that is one of the sadnesses of getting older—a complete lack of awareness of what your body and sense of balance can no longer manage. Or maybe they just need new glasses and don’t want to spend the money?

Anyway, it all motivates me to stay in shape and to keep moving, whether it’s dancing, tennis, lifting weights or much riskier, more daring sports…

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Growing Stomachs And Wrinkles Over The Years

I’m really laughing at myself…and you can too. Back in January I posted a story about aging and showed pictures of a number of celebrities when they were young and then decades later. How they changed. My, my, oh my. Included snaps of myself over the years and a high school friend. But all the celebrities were women.

So why didn’t I also show photos of male film stars? I dunno. Maybe I couldn’t take the pain of making their evolutions a bit more real. Too close to home, my gender-mates, mates. This week I TV-surfed into an old James Bond movie starring Roger Moore…and I remembered a recent picture of him that froze his figure in the guillotine of time. Finally I am motivated to publish these images of movie gods who were so physically attractive in their youth and have morphed into less glorious specimens of our species. Whatever. Maybe more fitness, less calories and minimal alcohol would make a big difference. But it’s so hard to be disciplined. We need more food police…

roger moore

clint eastwood

arnold schwarzenegger

mickey rourke

alex baldwin

russell crowe

rod stewart

val kilmer

richard gere

brendan fraser

pierce brosnan

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