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May 12, 1989 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

ideal body weight using body
fat percentage instead of
height and weight tables.
Vander explained that a
person can look thin, yet be
coated with fat. She also told
me some people are
overweight but have little
body fat. These most likely
are the body builders. I sure-
ly wouldn't mind substituting
a few fat pounds for muscle
weight. She suggested a
meeting with a staff dieti-
cian. Why not?
Next on the list was the ex-
ercise test, which measures
aerobic capacity, the amount
of oxygen the body is able to
Aerobic capacity is deter-
mined by the efficiency of the
heart, lungs and blood vessels
in their ability to deliver
needed oxygen.
'Ib prepare for the exercise
test, Vander placed 10 elec
trodes on my chest to monitor
a 12-lead electrocardiogram
monitor. She took my resting
heart rate — 50 beats per
minute — and my blood
pressure — 108/70.
Vander then advised me
that my heart rate and blood
pressure also would be
monitored throughout the
test. The treadmill gradually
would become more difficult.
I should stop when I feel
fatigued. I might need to jog
to keep up with the treadmill.
Then, two doctors joined us
for the test.
Okay, I thought, this will be
a piece of cake. I stepped up
onto the treadmill and
started walking. Seemed easy.
I told her so. It got harder. I
gritted my teeth and kept
I survived for about 12
minutes. At the end, my heart
rate had jumped to 193 beats
per minute and my blood
pressure measured 180/70.
I didn't understand any of
the figures. Vander told me I
reached 12 mets, which
measures aerobic capacity by
taking into account the
volume of oxygen used and
body weight. The higher a
MET level, the more work or
exercise can be performed. A
level of 12 means I exercised
at 12 times my functional
work capacity, called resting
oxygen consumption.
Oxygen consumption is
determined by the grade and
speed of the treadmill. The
EKG clinically interprets the
test for evidence of coronary
heart disease.
I nervously waited a week
for my complete results.
The bottom line: I was
above normal fitness with a
heart health score of 96 per-
cent. Still, I contained a bit
too much fat. With a healthy
diet and some weight train-

Glenn Triest

Fitness maven Ruth Messinger pumps iron at Vic Tanny.

Jewish Grandmothers Prove
Fitness And Aging Can Mix



Staff Writer

uth Messinger
spends most of
her adult life
dealing with
family or work-
related crises. After all,
stress has been a constant
companion for the 64-year-
old Messinger.
Yet Messinger, now a
grandmother, found a way
early on to help her combat
the pressures of daily living:
regular exercise.
Messinger and other
seniors who exercise help
dispel the myths that aging
is synonymous with illness.
She does vigorous exercise,
which has contributed great-
ly to her excellent health
She joins two other Jewish
grandmothers — Joyce
Weckstein, who teaches rac-
quetball, and Sylvia Zukin,
former director of the Jewish
Community Center's
women's health club — in
her devotion to health and
In fact, a recently released
University of Michigan
study reveals that exercise
may help seniors live more
active lifestyles.
The study indicates that
exercise may allow frail
seniors to become more
mobile and flexibile, which
increases their ability to live
"Exercising even at a low
intensity level has a positive
impact on the health of
chronically ill older people
who are at risk of going to
nursing homes," says Dr.
Tom Hickey, director of the

study and professor of health
gerontology at U-M School of
Public Health.
Study participants were 65
to 98, overweight with ar-
thritis. Most had never exer-
cised. For the study, the men
and women exercised for 45
minutes, twice a week, doing
basic exercises such as neck
and shoulder rolls, twists
and stretches for flexibility.
After six weeks, participants
were more mobile, the study
Unlike the study par-
ticipants, Messinger, Wecks-
tein and Zukin do not suffer
from common ailments
associated with aging such
as obesity and arthritis. And
they thank exercise for that.
Messinger takes no medica-
tion, does three, hour-long
workouts every week, swims,
dances, runs and plays
With each new stressful
situation, Messinger finds
an activity to help her dif-
fuse tension.
After leaving a promising
teaching job at Wayne State
to move to Florida with her
former husband, Messinger
took up tennis. "Instead of
sticking with the loss in my
craw," she says, "what I did
was take the anger, take the
loss and put it into the ac-
tivity that it took to become
a good tennis player."
When a relationship with
a man ended because he
could not handle pressures
associated with two of her
children, who suffer from
long-term illnesses, Mess-
inger took up running.
Messinger's devotion to
athletics did not begin in
adulthood. A tomboy, Mess-
inger grew up playing sports,


and never stopped. She has
been. active in basketball,
swimming, fencing and

Sylvia Zukin still teaches
exercise classes at the
Maple/Drake JCC and offers
students private lessons. She
likes to swim and walk and,
like Messinger, is in great
shape. Zukin advises those
wishing to follow her exam-
ple to begin early.
"When your range of mo-
tion becomes smaller, that's
indication enough for you to

"After the age of
25 or so you start
deteriorating. The
only way that you
can keep your
body alert and
alive is to use the
brain, then put the
body into use."

know that you have to do
something. Because the
muscles get tighter and
shorter and you can't func-
Zukin says young people
can function well without
thinking about how they
move their bodies. However,
"after the age of 25 or so you
start deteriorating. The only
way that you can keep your
body alert and alive is to use
the brain, then put the body
into use."
Zukin believes in body
awareness, knowing how
your body works and moves,
and what movements and
positions are right for it.
Messinger, who works at
Vic Tanny, does "everything

that I did when I was a kid."
That includes her workout,
which includes15 minutes of
fast walking, 15 minutes of
aerobics and 30 minutes on
various exercise machines,
including arm, leg and chest
machines. She uses all of the
machines at her club in dif-
ferent workouts.
She says she can run as
fast as most of the 30-year-
olds she sees at Vic Tanny. "I
could maybe outlast them in
a workout on the floor,
depending on how grooved
they were in exercise."
Joyce Weckstein has no
name for her fitness
philosophy. That is probably
because she is too busy to
come up with one. A former
physical education teacher,
she teaches racquetball and
speedwalking classes at the
Jewish Community Center
and Franklin Racquet Club.
She also hikes, cross-country
skis and volunteers for
several charitable projects.
As do her friends, Zukin
and Messinger, Weckstein
benefits from her life-long
devotion to fitness.
"It means being able to do
anything" she says. "I'm
always ready to undertake
any kind of sports or trekk-
ing. I did a hiking trip to
Israel two years ago. I was in
the Israeli army last year (as
a volunteer working in a
warehouse) for three weeks.
So, by being in ultimate
shape, I can always take off
"I just find that it's an ex-
cellent way of life. I think
you get more energy, you're
more creative. I really out-do,
in my energy, many younger
Weckstein says she has
been "more active and more
productive in my last 10
years" than she was before.
For those who have not
always lived a fit life, all is
not lost. All three agree that
fitness can benefit anyone.
"You can pick it up at any
age," Zukin says.
"It's never too late as long
as there's life and breath,"
Messinger says.
Weckstein says it's easier
to start a fitness program
early in life "because then
you get some good habits
and it just becomes a natural
thing to do. But at any time
in your life, if you really
want to change your life
around and have a healthier
life, you can make a change."
Weckstein had good results
with speedwalking classes
for seniors from the Federa-
tion apartments.
"It's very beneficial. It gets
them out; it gets them an ac-
tivity. It helps them with




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