Boomers work hard to keep aging at bay

Jane Glenn Haas / The Orange County Register /

With age comes wisdom. “And once I figured that out, I knew I had to make my body as wise as my brains,” says Donna Sousa-Wright.

That’s how the Irvine, Calif., woman, 58, describes her conversion nine months ago from an indulgent lifestyle to one of “age discipline.”

She’s up every morning at 6 a.m., dresses quickly and goes for a half-hour walk to start her day.

Sousa-Wright is typical of boomers nearing or over 60 — the sudden shift to exercise to keep the signs, symbols and stigma of aging at bay.

Will it last into their 70s?

While experts predict that boomers will change the exercise future, no one knows yet whether these recent conversions will last.

Sousa-Wright promises to stay active. She’s already lost 45 pounds with diet and exercise changes and feels terrific, she says.

Her goal: “It’s all about always being the best I can be.”

That’s a common attitude among boomers who suddenly find themselves slowing, weighed down by age and lack of exercise.

The baby boomers running, walking, swimming and using exercise machines are changing the face of aging, experts say. It’s all part of the video era, the if-Jane-Fonda-and-Richard-Simmons-can-do-it-I-can-too mentality.

After all, the old sit and the young are out doing it.

Like Linda Edwards. At 64, she’s on her at-home Pilates chair three times a week doing cardio exercises and stretching for 30 minutes.

For Edwards, who tends to take a cynical attitude toward many life demands, the exercises are critical: “I do all levels of difficulty like you would in a studio,” she says. “It works every major muscle group. It’s challenging.”

In between, she swims a couple of times a week, does some water aerobics, and walks the dog. “And I do serious dog walking maybe twice a week,” she says.

The scheduled activity, which she began about three years ago, gives her more energy, she says. “This is not about relocating the fat,” she says. “It can settle where it will. But doing what I do keeps a sense of aging at bay.”

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