‘Never too late:’ Las Cruces 81-year-old stays healthy, active with CrossFit

Buy Photo Las Crucen John LeRoy was 40 when he undertook a major lifestyle change, giving up smoking and taking up exercise.

A few decades have passed — he’s now 81 — but his enthusiasm for staying fit has not waned.

LeRoy is an active member of a local CrossFit gym, a club where most members are half, or even one-quarter, his age. And he often incorporates other workouts, like bicycling, into his weekly routine.

For LeRoy, a retired electrical engineer and a U.S. Navy veteran, exercise is both a hobby and a lifestyle. Indeed, a focus on physical fitness is an approach that has loads of benefits for elderly residents, as well as younger folks who want to set the proper, healthy foundation for their senior years, according doctors.

In his late 70s, LeRoy decided to look into CrossFit, a program that incorporates various intense exercises, after he’d noticed his strength and endurance in other activities — like bicycling, swimming and running — was declining. Plus, the program seemed intriguing.

“I heard about it, and I thought, ‘That might be fun to try,'” he said. John LeRoy, 81, lifts weights at CrossFit Las Cruces, a gym he attends four to five days a week. (Photo: Josh Bachman/Sun-News) Working out not only for the young

Dr. J. Roberto Duran, who specializes in geriatric care and is the medical director at the Southwest Center on Aging, 1106 Centre Court, said he’s often heard a certain falsehood: that exercise is for young people only.

“No, it should be completely (the) opposite,” Duran said. “The older you get, the more exercise you should do. Intensity might not be the same, but the necessity is even more as you get older.”

Duran said people who are aging tend to lose muscle mass, which leads to weakness. Osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones , is also a risk that goes hand in hand with aging. But those can be countered with exercise.

“I always tell people: ‘Weakness leads to falls. Falls lead to hip fractures. Hip fractures are the No. 1 reason people end up in the nursing home,'” he said. “It’s important you keep yourself strong, not only for gait and balance but for range of motion.”

In 1996, the first-ever U.S. Surgeon General’s report on the connection between physical activity and health assessed research on the topic, concluding there are a wealth of benefits for people of all ages by carrying out even moderate physical activity.

“A regular, preferably daily, regimen of at least 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking, bicycling, or even working around the house or yard will reduce your risks of developing coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer and diabetes,” wrote former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.

And people already exercising that much will “benefit even more by increasing the intensity of duration of that activity,” she wrote. A lack of exercise Unfortunately, Duran said, many of his patients tell him they don’t regularly exercise. He’s often noticed, however, a difference among veterans. For many former military […]

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