May 31st, 2012 / posted by paularath

Joan Packer performs a squat with the stability ball.

Does this look like the body and face of a 91-year-old? I swear, it is. Meet Joan Packer of Waikiki. She’s my new “poster girl” for aging gracefully.

What is perhaps most remarkable about Joan is that she didn’t begin her road to fitness until age  77, when she moved to Waikiki and saw everyone around her moving, jogging, walking, swimming and surfing. She wasn’t used to that. A Missouri farm girl, she sold two farms in her home state to buy a condo in Waikiki. In Missouri there’s a much higher rate of couch potatoes than in Honolulu.

“I looked around me and decided I’d better start walking,” Joan said in a presentation on Tuesday at Arcadia Retirement Residence. Her walking led to a realization that her balance and strength needed work as well, so Joan signed on with personal fitness trainer Diane Cadinha. Now Joan acts, looks and feels thirty years younger than she did 15 years ago. She is proof positive that IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO START WORKING OUT, GETTING FIT AND CHANGING YOUR LIFESTYLE.

Joan and Diane shared exercise and health tips with the savvy seniors in the audience.

Diane reminded the Arcadians that, as early as age 40, we begin to lose 1/4 pound of muscle each year. Muscle loss causes a slow-down in metabolism, usually resulting in weight gain. “The more muscle tissue you have, the healthier you are,” Diane said.  “Get up every morning with the thought ‘I will move today. I will help lubricate my joints.'” She also mentioned the importance of balance and flexibility as we age. Falls account for so many problems as we age that it’s critical we work to remain as flexible and balanced as possible.

After 14 years of regular exercise, including strength and resistance training, cardio and balance work, Joan said “My flexibility increased so much. I was so stiff and had aches and pains and now I have no problems at all. And I take no medications. I eat the right things and exercise every day and have changed my whole life. Health is the most important thing we have!” Her taut, trim figure, glowing skin and bright eyes attest to her healthy lifestyle.

That said, Joan got out her yoga mat, theraband and stability ball and began demonstrating some of the moves that have kept her amazingly fit at age 91. I must mention that she jumped down onto the mat – and jumped up again – like a thirty-something. For many 91-year-olds, that alone would be a feat.

Here are some of Joan’s favorite exercises for strength and flexibility:

Ball squat with plie, side view. Check out those toned arms.

A Pilates bridge.

A stretch for the hamstrings, calves and hips. A towel can also be used.

A push-up on the stability ball makes the classic push-up a little more joint-friendly.

For more core and leg work, pull knees in and out.

Side-lying leg lifts help hips remain flexible.

No one wants to fall and break an ankle. Keep them flexible with easy stretches.

If you don't have a theraband, use a towel. Aim for maximum mobility, from heel to toe and side to side.

Pulling the foot toward the torso then pointing the toe helps foot and ankle flexibility.




















Diane and Joan make a great workout team. For many, a personal trainer offers the best road to fitness, giving them confidence and encouragement to progress and work harder.


Check my blog in the next few days for a story about Joan and Diane’s Green Smoothie, along with a recipe. It’s a simple way to get in those five to seven servings of fruits and veggies daily.

Joan swears she doesn’t enjoy exercise, “I do it for the results,” she said with a grin, adding “I do what I need to do, and no more.” Whatever her resaon, it works!

– Paula Rath

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