Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fit to Be Olympians Exercise Pays Seniors More Than Just Medals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fit to Be Olympians Exercise Pays Seniors More Than Just Medals

Article excerpt

More than 1,400 people claim they drank from the fountain of youth - exercise - at the St. Louis Senior Olympics this week.

Eugenia Zacny, 77, credits tennis for keeping her going after the death of her husband.

George Wade, 60, thanks racquetball for curing his heartburn and helping him lose 43 pounds.

Roger Bickel, 55, says competing in the Senior Olympics makes growing older a treat.

The tan and fit trio, all of whom won medals in this year's St. Louis Senior Olympics, sat Wednesday laughing and chatting in a coffee shop at the Jewish Community Centers Association, or JCCA, on Schuetz Road.

Wednesday was the closing day of the St. Louis Senior Olympics and was also National Senior Health Fitness Day. In addition to competing in events from football to ballroom dancing, all comers could get their weight, flexibility, strength, blood pressure and other fitness indicators tested, all for free.

Zacny, Wade and Bickel posted high fitness scores without breaking into a sweat. Two younger folks - a reporter and photographer from the Post-Dispatch - flunked.

"You need to exercise," said Cyndy Nayer, a JCCA staff member who headed up the testing program.

Research done at Washington University has shown that exercise can reverse aging by seven to 12 years. Doctors say proper exercise often improves the health of people with heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes.

"Look at Eugenia. She's my inspiration," said Nayer.

Last week, Eugenia Zacny of west St. Louis County won the gold medal in her age group in women's singles tennis at the national Senior Olympics in San Antonio, Texas.

This week, Zacny won medals in the St. Louis Senior Olympics in tennis, bocce and soccer kick.

Zacny said the tennis was work. The bocce and soccer - she had never played bocce before - were fun.

"Be sure and subtract a half-pound for all these medals," Zacny joked when she weighed in Wednesday. Zacny wore a white tennis skirt that showed off her firm legs. Zacny appeared in that short skirt on postcards seniors sent home from the nationals in San Antonio.

Zacny tends flowers, picks raspberries and cleans house, but she stresses the mental oomph regular exercise provides. …

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