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Fitness Special—Hike Forever: Age 65 & Up

Stay in shape with these workout tips, and advice from a fitness hero.



Eat Right and Stay in Shape

Eat Right
Your mission is simple: Fight free radicals. These reactive compounds attack cell membranes, red blood cells, and tissue, and they contribute to risk factors for chronic diseases like arthritis, immune dysfunction, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, and cancer. They come from food (especially commercial cooking oils), exposure to UV radiation, and, paradoxically, exercise itself. When the body is young, working out stimulates the production of free-radical-fighting antioxidants within muscle tissue. With age, its ability to produce antioxidants decreases, so you’ll need to get more from your diet. Eat plenty of berries, especially blueberries and blackberries (get ’em trailside!), and pack cherries, cranberries, and goji berries, some of the most powerful antioxidants available.

Age-Defying Digestives
Promote a healthy heart and fight cancer-causing free radicals with this fruity snack high in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.

1 1/2 cup raw cashews, lightly toasted
1 cup raw or crispy macadamia nuts
1/2 cup dried papaya, cut small
1 cup dried mango, cut small
1 cup dried pineapple, cubed
1 cup dried coconut flakes

Pose legs up a tree
Older hikers have a harder time moving around for long periods without getting stiff. This pose eases joint pressure and stimulates circulation, which flushes lactic acid and reduces post-hike soreness. How: lay your sleeping pad at the base of a large rock or tree. stand with your shoulder against the boulder while you slide to the ground. Swing your legs around and up the rock. rest here for 5 to 15 minutes, then use your fingers to "rake" your skin from ankle to pelvis. Do 10 rakes.

No Limits
In 1994, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that a group of "very frail" 87-year-olds increased leg strength by 113 percent over 10 weeks with high-intensity strength training every other day.

Double your strength in 10 weeks
"There’s no need to reduce your workouts just because of your age," says Evelyn O’Neill, manager of exercise services at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston. Her prescription for maximum strength gains? Do the following exercises every other day in three sets of eight repetitions. Lift six seconds on the way up, three on the way down, resting 1-2 seconds between reps and two minutes between sets. Use 1- to 10-pound ankle weights for all exercises.

1. Seated leg extension From a seated position, slowly extend your right leg until it’s parallel with the ground, then lower. Do three sets of eight reps for each leg.

2. Standing leg curl Stand behind a chair with your legs together. Slowly lift the right foot, bending the knee and moving the right heel toward the glutes. Lower back to the ground. Do three sets of eight reps. Switch sides.

3. Standing hip abduction Stand behind a chair with your legs together. Keeping your toes pointed forward and leg straight, raise your right leg out to the side. Lower it slowly. Do three sets of eight reps, then switch sides.
Trail mix recipes by Esther Cohen (
Yoga poses by Margaret Burns Vap (

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