Retired and looking fabulous

Published on Wed, Jul 15, 2009 by Jack Kintner

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It happens every time you go to a reunion of some kind, the sort of event that peppers a retired person’s schedule with gatherings of people you knew way back when. Some of the people you meet seem to have aged unbelievably while others are so fit they seem years younger.

The secret is a combination of genes, diet and exercise.

You can’t do anything about your genes. Your diet, whether an actual diet to lose weight or in response to a medical condition, is something everyone should pay attention to.

Exercise is the third factor and does more than anything else to make retirement years enjoyable and yet is often avoided or even rejected by many.

But everyone can benefit from exercise and the opportunities are more available than ever, especially in Blaine and Birch Bay. Seniors can exercise for free at the Blaine Senior Center on state of the art equipment, once they’ve completed a ten-week course.

And there’s more. For example, most ski areas will let people over a certain age ski for a reduced rate or even for free. At Grouse Mountain, people over 65 can get half price lift tickets, and if you’re 75 or older you can ski at Mt. Baker for free.

In short, if you’re looking for a great anti-aging pill, then you do not have to look any further than exercising properly.

Exercise delays the aging process. One local health practitioner said that if people exercised and ate correctly he’d lose half or more of his patients. Things as simple as walking, running and swimming, if they speed up the heart rate for 30 minutes a day, will be of benefit. It will strengthen your heart and you will feel better.

Exercise is also a key component is maintaining the right weight. Obesity is common in older people because people’s metabolism slows down with age and it puts their health at risk in a number of ways.

Exercise increases muscle mass and bone density regardless of the person’s age: One of the first people to enroll in the exercise training classes at the Blaine Senior Center in 2001 was 94 years old, and she showed an increase in both categories.

Older adults are at risk for osteoporosis, so exercise becomes crucial since it reduces the chances of falling and the injuries caused by those falls. Bones will be less brittle, so even if someone falls they have less chance of getting hurt.

For a healthy heart, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 15 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 to 5 days per week, with a heart rate of 60 to 90 percent of one’s maximal heart rate (220 minus current age).

 It doesn’t have to be boot camp; one 30-minute walk or three, 10-minute walks a day can help add a few more years to one’s life. Water aerobics can help with flexibility, mobility and cardiovascular endurance. Plus, the buoyancy gives your body support so there’s no impact on the joints which is helpful in the event of joint tenderness or pain.

Weight lifting is also worthwhile, especially if it includes a lot of repetitions. One study has shown that women aged 50 to 70 can gain 1 percent more bone density in the hip and spine while the control group that did not lift weights lost 2.5 percent bone density. Those who trained had strength increases from about 35 to 76 percent above the control group. Balance improved 14 percent and general physical activity increased by about 27 percent.
Options for local fitness programs include:

Blaine Senior Center
763 G Street
For individuals ages 50 and older, there’s no better deal than the Blaine Senior Center. With their $25 annual membership to the center, patrons are given free use of exercise equipment including aerobic equipment, treadmills, recumbent and stationary bikes, rowing machines and strength training equipment. Users, however, must complete a 10-week training course and obtain a doctor’s release form.

Core Kinetics Pilates
4819 Alderson Road #103
Birch Bay
Core Kinetics Pilates studio is a satellite location of their Bellingham facility. The 1,000-square foot studio offers private Pilates training, small group training limited to five people and belly dancing with Ruby, a certified Pilates instructor and award-winning belly dancer.
Hours are by appointment only or by classes, which are offered five days a week.
For a complete schedule, visit

Everyday Fitness
1733 H Street #850
Everyday Fitness offers universal and free weights as well as cardiovascular, resistance and strength training at both its Blaine and Ferndale locations. Additionally, they offer nutrition classes and various fitness training. Personal training, special weight management and senior programs are also available.
For more information, visit

8115 Birch Bay Square #133
Birch Bay
For women only, Curves offers a patented formula of strength training and hydraulic weights for lower and upper body strength, combined with cardio exercises to get your heart rate up during the 30-minute routine.

Northwest Parks &
Recreation District 2
The newly formed NWPRD2 offers recreational, art and fitness programs at various Blaine and Birch Bay locations. To register, call or visit

Thistle Down Studios
Yoga instructor Sue Dunstone teaches Kriya/Iyengar yoga, a more traditional style of yoga that focuses on relaxation, balance, mindfulness and breathing. She also offers occasional supported deep relaxation classes. Class sizes are limited. For a schedule, call 332-8169.

Whatcom Fitness
250 G Street
Whatcom Fitness offers a full selection of free weights and stationary exercise equipment including treadmills, elliptical machines recumbent bikes and stair climber machines.
Added bonuses are the aerobic rooms, supervised complimentary childcare and the extensive list of group membership classes ($5 for drop-ins) that includes yoga, low-impact aerobics, belly dancing, women’s and men’s flexibility and strength training, nutrition, mat conditioning, and cardio training.
Personal training, drop-in and non-expiring punch cards are also available.