Successful Aging: 100 Club promotes fellowship, exercise
For more information or to join, contact:
Sylvia Wendrow, membership chair: 970-704-1904
Sharon Cornett, treasurer: 970-625-1361
Alex De La Garza, registrar: 970-928-7910
A recurring theme in my columns is the importance of physical activity in healthy aging. Besides keeping one’s body as healthy as possible and staving off heart disease, diabetes and joint problems, exercise is essential to keeping our brains in shape.
A year ago, I wrote about emotional predators that age us: isolation, loneliness and depression, components of a cultural disease that cardiologist Dean Ornish describes as “spiritual heart disease.” In that column, I cited findings from Dr. George E. Vaillant’s “Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life From the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development.”
Selected as teenagers for different aspects of mental and physical health, study participants were followed throughout their adult lives. Findings showed that people’s ways of reacting to life’s challenges and changes better predicted longevity and health in later life than socioeconomic status, educational attainment and physical parameters. Vaillant’s guideposts include:
• It’s not the bad things that happen to us that doom us; it is the good people who happen to us at any age who facilitate enjoyable old age.
• Learning to play and create after retirement and learning to gain younger friends as we lose older ones add more to life’s enjoyment than retirement income.
The 100 Club, an organization for active seniors in and around Glenwood Springs, embodies both these aspects of successful aging by promoting physical activity and growing new friendships. The group’s name represents its members: couples whose ages total 100 or more and singles 50 and older.
Last week, I had the pleasure of learning more about the 100 Club from members Ray and Shirley Limoges and Hal Sundin.
After introductions, Ray Limoges asked if I had read “Spark,” by Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey and Eric Hagerman. He went on to critique it as somewhat repetitious but still a good introduction to the positive effects that challenging physical exercise has on a variety of mental issues, both cognitive and mood-related.
When Ray’s wife, Shirley Limoges, jumped in with, “In the 100 Club, we’re all about exercise,” I knew I was with my people.
The 100 Club’s group activities include monthly dinners, theater nights, and men’s and women’s bridge groups. But it is unique in its focus on physical activities.
The late Tom and Olly Sherman, avid skiers who moved to Glenwood Springs from Burlington, Vermont, founded the 100 Club, which started in 1990 as a group of seniors who met for a weekly ski day at Sunlight. Meeting new people has been a cornerstone of the organization since its beginning. Sundin said the Shermans wouldn’t allow people to ride the ski lift with anyone twice until they had ridden up with everyone else. Shirley Limoges added that is a tradition the club still encourages.
The group’s hiking program began when Sundin was encouraged to organize activities to keep the 100 Club going after the ski season, and now offers 40-45 hikes from the end of April through the end of September. The season’s schedule features overnight trips as well as day hikes.
A hike schedule and maps are trail information are available on the club’s website. Sundin, who has logged almost 6,900 miles on club hikes, said many members complete hundreds of miles each year on the hikes, which range from relatively easy to very challenging, and have included over half of Colorado’s fourteeners.
Safety is key and each hike has designated leaders. Participants find their own pace and break into natural groups by pace, with everyone turning around at a set time so that all hikers get back to the starting point within a reasonable time period.
Through the years, the 100 Club has added biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing to its activities.
Ray Limoges said that one of the 100 Club’s most important features is its welcoming attitude. He said when new people – often retirees – come to town and learn about the organization, they automatically have 50-100 new friends. He and Shirley also emphasized that no one cares what you did before retirement or how much money you made.
The 100 Club’s giving back activities include cleaning up a two-mile stretch of Highway 82 twice a year, working on trail maintenance with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and participating in the annual MS Walk.
Many members are engaged in other philanthropic and volunteer activities such as Medicare education with RSVP and volunteering with YouthZone, LIFT-UP and other nonprofit organizations.
Sundin and the Limogeses agree that the 100 Club is an excellent way for older people to get to know others, stay – or become – physically active and engage in meaningful community projects. He said that in a lifetime of traveling all over the world he has not encountered anything else like it.
Angelyn Frankenberg is a wellness coach and writer living in Carbondale. She has a master’s in physical education and an undergraduate degree in music. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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