Mar 6 2013

100-year-old UMHS patient on exercise: “You’re never too old to start”

A gym for the 65-and-over crowd: Senior participants break a sweat at UMHS’s Functional Fitness class; one of program’s first-ever participants turns 100

In between chats with friends and quips with her fitness trainer, Margaret Rookes spent a recent morning walking on the treadmill, stepping on a NuStep and leg pressing 100 pounds.

When it comes to maintaining her three-times-a-week, 75-minute workout routine, Margaret makes no excuses – not even the fact that she just turned 100 years old.

Watch Margaret in action on Channel 4 Detroit!

“I wouldn’t be in this condition if I didn’t come here,” says Margaret, sporting white sneakers while switching between strength and cardiovascular machines and stretching exercises. “It’s kept me moving. It’s kept me young.”

At age 89, Margaret was one of the first three participants to enroll in the Functional Fitness for Older Adults class that started at the University of Michigan Health System more than a decade ago. The class, which is offered by the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for people age 65 and over, has since grown to more than 60 gym-goers.

For Margaret, the class offers a social outlet and place to connect with peers while improving her strength, balance, endurance and mobility – components that typically decline with age and can pose major health risks for older adults.

“I wouldn’t be in this condition if I didn’t come here. It’s kept me young,” says Margaret Rookes, 100. Margaret has been coming to UMHS’s Functional Fitness for Older Adults class since she was 89.

She says the class kept her so fit that at age 95, she was able to take a trip back to Bermuda – her home of five years in the 1930’s where she waitressed after college and met her late husband. Along with her daughter and son-in-law, she was able to visit all of her favorite landmarks and even walk up and down the 39-flight of stairs that took her from her beach cottage to the ocean.

“There’s no getting around it – I’m old,” says Margaret, sitting near a photo from her recent birthday celebration that pictures her with a bottle of sparkling cider under the caption “still partying at 100.” “Coming here is good for my body and mind. It gives me a reason to get out of bed every day. My doctor told me ‘whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’” Read the rest of this entry »