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Exercise is good for the body, mind

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Since I like exercising, I’m happy this month’s “Inside Lincoln” in today’s paper is about working out. After moving back from San Francisco in November, I now start my day by running with my dog. This simple activity helps me think about what I need to do the next 12 hours or so. When I lived in San Francisco, I happily left my car with my daughter in Davis so I would be forced to walk 25 minutes to and from work and then another 20 minutes to and from the gym and stores. I never learned the bus or BART schedule so I’d have to walk, thus getting extra aerobic exercise while working my hip flexors, glutes, quadriceps and calf muscles. And I’d come home almost every weekend to Northern California so my dog, living with my parents, could get in two good runs a week. When the vet told me last month that my dog looked leaner since I moved back and began our exercise routine again, I was proud of the “pat on the back.” I was also glad to recently discover a new gym to visit here at the end of the workday. If I have to occasionally work late and miss my regular time to exercise on the elliptical cross trainer, I feel my day is missing something. I know I’m a little neurotic about exercising. But it feels good and I hope I never stop finding time to run and visit the gym. Although I have to admit it would sometimes be easy to skip a few days. Then I talked Tuesday to Charlotte Williams, who has regularly exercised since high school. I only hope I can follow her exercise example. Williams, 76, is a Sun City national award-winning race walker who picked up the sport about 15 years ago. Before that, Williams was a runner, a hockey player and a soccer player. But she switched to race walking because it has less impact on her joints, hips and knees, something the majority of longtime runners eventually endure. “I can’t do without walking or some type of exercise. I do karate, stretching, just to stay in shape,” Williams said. And she’s not afraid to enter race-walking competitions with participants from around the country who have been in the sport longer than her. Williams has several medals to show for her efforts. For example, Williams entered the National Senior Olympics for her first time in 2002 in Baton Rouge, La. and placed sixth in race walking. The year before, Williams took second place in the 1,500-meter, 5K and 10K events at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah. And the list of impressive athletic accomplishments continues. In 2002 and 2003, Williams took home second place and then first place respectively in the women-over-70 category at the California International Marathon. That marathon involved walking from Folsom to the Sacrament Capitol Building in about five hours. But she doesn’t just think positively about these events; Williams also trains hard for them. Currently, Williams’s preparing for the National Senior Olympics set for Aug. 8 and Aug. 10 in Stanford. “If I’m training for a marathon, I’ll take several walks of at least three, four miles a day and, once a week, walk whatever number of miles I’m going to compete in,” she explained. This energetic resident hopes other area residents will join her in her quest to maintain good health and good flexibility. And that quest doesn’t mean a mammoth schedule of working out. It just has to be continuous. “You can exercise every day,” Williams said. “The way you get out of bed can be exercise, rolling smoothly. If you’re new to exercising, it should be easy as you move your legs, put clothes in the washer, just how you bend and move your upper arms. You can sit in a chair and exercise. If you don’t move, you lose your flexibility.” I really like her advice and hope to follow it for several more decades. “Don’t put limitations on yourself because you’re chronologically a 50-, 60-, or 70- year-old walker,” Williams said. “Define yourself as an athlete, not as a number on your Social Security card.” – Carol Feineman can be reached at 774-7972 or at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com.