Aging With Gusto

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

                                                           Aging with Gusto

When you call her phone number, expect to get her voice mail.  She might be in a water aerobics class, helping with a canned food drive, tutoring a child, or meeting with her computer club.  In fact, Mary is more active today then she has ever been, and she is 75 years old.  How is she aging so gracefully?  According to Mary, three key factors are diet, exercise and attitude.

Every day Mary wakes up with a plan and has several things to look forward to.  She believes in nurturing her spirit, mind and body, contributing as much as she can to her community and spending time with others.  She begins her morning routine, takes her medicine, stretches, walks or swims for sixty minutes, and returns home to eat a balanced meal.  She strives to eat five or more fruits and vegetables a day.  Why?  Because research shows older adults do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and eating them may help protect against many diseases.

As part of her regular routine, Mary wears a pedometer.  The pedometer keeps track of her steps.  A couple of years ago, she made the conscious effort to get “a little healthier.”  Her original goal was to increase her steps from 1000 steps per day to about 5000.  In the past twelve months, Mary has averaged 8000 steps per day.  How did she do it? She set a new daily step goal each week by calculating her averages and increasing it by 10%.  It’s been a long road but each day she continues to try a little harder. 

“Reach, stretch, reach,” Mary has gotten used to the class instructor.  The trainer is a young whippersnapper who focuses on the number three.  She likes to say “three easy stretches and three easy movements.”  She encourages the class to follow her lead in stretching calves, hamstrings and do ankle circles for 15 to 30 seconds.  To help people walk better and avoid injuries, the instructor has participants do chair stands, toe rises and trunk leans.  For those who like a challenge, side leg raises are a must.

There are a number of key factors to aging well.  Many of them will be discussed at our upcoming Warren County Aging with Gusto program on October 29th at the Warren County Armory.  There will be vendors, demonstrations, conversations about cooking and eating smart, sex after sixty and fitness fun.  The cost is $7 per person or $6 if you sign up in advance.  For additional information, please call our partners at the Senior Center at 252-257-3111 today.  Who knows?  Mary may just be there to tell her story!


Rachel Harris Monteverdi is the Warren County Family & Consumer Sciences Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, a division of North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.  The Family & Consumer Sciences department incorporates prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens include:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 252-257-3640, email or visit for additional information.