Still Going Strong
A new calendar highlights active seniors
CAROL STEIN never dreamed she’d be a calendar girl. But, at age sixty-three, there she is, along with eleven other seniors, adorning the pages of the 2021 Wilmington 60 Strong Calendar.
These twelve seniors, who exemplify fitness, achievement, and contribution, were selected from fifty nominees to serve as ambassadors for Wilmington Health’s Senior Advantage Program. The program encourages seniors to stay active and helps them address health care concerns.
“We wanted to identify folks ages sixty to sixty-nine who are strong, resilient, and giving back to others,” says ALEXIS HUNTER, Wilmington Health’s community liaison. “The Wilmington 60 Strong calendar celebrates these local seniors and shows that life as a senior can be vibrant and active.”
The Wilmington 60 Strong seniors are all overachievers when it comes to exercise, and they reap the health benefits of their workouts – they are fit and have few or no health problems. But, they say the advantages of staying active go far beyond fitness and health.
For Stein (above), exercise is a means to self-growth and meeting ever-more challenging goals. A competitive athlete since high school, when Stein retired she decided to re-enter competitions. She trained extensively and won both national and world meets. Stein continues to set goals for herself in track and field, and she boogie boards, lifts weights, and bikes.
“Goals keep you from aging sooner than you want to and enjoying more of your life,” she says. “You’re not sitting in your living room. You are out and about and traveling.”
Stein’s conviction was proven when COVID-19 put the kibosh on many vacations. Stein simply revised her plans and cycled the Great Allegheny Passage in Pennsylvania and the City Trail in Missouri.
LISA IEZZI, sixty-one, finds that exercise gives her more energy. The boost Iezzi gets from her 4-mile runs helps her fulfill her many responsibilities. Iezzi is a full-time social worker who specializes in helping abused women and children. However, Iezzi’s desire to help others extends far beyond work. She carries diapers, food, and other supplies in her car to give to those in need; and she opens her home to those less fortunate at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Iezzi also has several avocations. She plays the flute, sings, and performs with the Opera House Theatre Company. She has no plans for slowing down and wants to add more volunteer activities to her schedule when she retires.
“Through exercise, I stay healthy and I don’t get tired,” she says. “My goal is to always make a difference. I’m not ready to quit.”
For BERNADETTE BAKER, sixtynine- and-a-half, exercise is an introduction to new worlds. Baker didn’t come to exercise by choice. She started water therapy to deal with a herniated disc; one activity led to another, and now she is an avid pickleball player, water walker, and bicyclist. In addition, Baker is an accomplished photographer, a skill she taught herself; a member of the board for Smart Start, an enrichment program for children up to the age of five; and a garden club member.
Working out gives Baker the ability to participate in awesome, challenging adventures like the glacier walk she took with her son last year.
“My thighs were screaming, but I did it,” she says.
For Gayla MacMillan, sixty-one, exercise is the key to her independence. She says our bodies are made to move, and if you don’t keep moving, you won’t move. That’s the credo she teaches in her fitness and tai chi classes at the Senior Resource Center. In addition to teaching, MacMillan runs and takes long walks – really long walks. She plans to walk 2021 miles in 2021, a project she is undertaking with her niece.
By staying active, MacMillan says she can do whatever she wants and will not be forced to stop. One task she has taken on is being a caregiver for a friend. While MacMillan is more than happy to help her friend, she says the role highlights how important it is to take care of oneself.
“I stay healthy so my son or husband won’t have to take care of me,” she says.
Each of these seniors urges others in their golden years to embrace exercise as a way of life.
The important thing is to do something that interests you and that’s fun, says Baker.
The calendars, which sell for $15, are available for preorder at Wilmington- 60Strong.com, which also features the other calendar subjects. Proceeds benefit the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Anchor Senior Care Advantage
Want more WILMA? Click here to sign up for our WILMA Weekly email and announcements.