• Bryan Morrow

How Physical Therapy Helps Retirees Keep Dreams Alive During the Golden Years

Are you among the millions of Americans who have high aspirations for how you’ll spend the extra time during your post-retirement years? Whether you plan to travel the world, pick up fly fishing, spend more time woodworking or sign up for a golf league, your physical fitness level will be a factor.

A 2010 study suggests that the fitness declines we typically attribute to advancing age are largely caused by living sedentary lifestyles—which are on the rise due to the prominence of desk jobs in the workplace and activity-limiting personal technologies including smart phones and voice-activated remote controls in the home. Still, this runs contrary to the widely held belief that any declines in our physical abilities are caused solely by biological aging. Do we really have control over how active we’ll be in our “golden years”?

In a word, absolutely. The study—which examined 900,000 running times of marathon and half-marathon participants aged 20 to 79 — found no significant age-related performance declines in those younger than 55 years old, and only moderate declines among the older cohorts. In fact, more than one-quarter of runners aged 65 to 69 were faster than half of the runners aged 20 to 54. And for those thinking that these runners must have been lifelong enthusiasts of the sport, the study revealed that 25% of runners aged 50 to 69 were relative newcomers—and had started marathon training within the previous 5 years. The researchers concluded that even at an advanced age, people in the “non-athlete” category who engage in regular training can reach high performance levels.

If this revelation is intriguing, then perhaps it’s time for you to get moving! If you aren’t currently active, then you likely have questions and concerns about where to start. And if you regularly engage in physical activities, then you’ve probably set goals that you’d like to achieve. Either way, there’s no shortage of tools and resources to help you live a more active lifestyle but one reliable place to start is with a physical therapist.

Richard Romanelli played football, basketball and lacrosse in High School and continued playing all three sports while he was an undergraduate at Washington and Lee University. After college he coached many teams at the High School level and since then has done many things to stay active. He ran his first marathon at the age of 55 and continues to be active in retirement at the age of 66. Mr. Romanelli hiked major sections of the Application Trail in 2017 and will continue hiking this Spring. He says he started training for long distance hiking one mile at a time and racked up over 500 miles last year alone.

After a 4 week solo hike through parts of Virginia and North Carolina he was experiencing pain in his shoulder, knees and wrist. After a visit to his primary care physician he was referred to

physical therapy.

We asked Mr. Romanelli a few questions about his experience at Innovative Physical Therapy and aspirations for staying active post retirement. We hope it gives you the motivation you need to get or stay active this Spring and if an injury, ache or pain arises, come visit us at Innovative Physical Thearpy.

• Why do you stay active and why did you pick running and now hiking?

It just makes me feel better in so many ways when I am active. Picking up weight seems inevitable as we grow older and staying active is one way to help combat unhealthy weight gain. I have tried several diets and lost weight each time, but have never been able to keep the weight off by just dieting. I try to eat healthy but inevitably there are too many stops for fast food and snacks. Staying active is the only way I have been able to consistently keep the weight off. Probably the main reason I stay active is to be able to keep up with our 13 grandchildren, who range in age from 8 months to 9 years old. I hope it is a long time before I feel too tired or worn out to do the things they want to do together, like play basketball, lacrosse, take hikes and just play outside in the