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If this doesn't prove to you that alcohol is bad for you and kills you everytime you use it then I don't know what will.  Every single oldest person recorded in the world has never ever drank and this proves it.  Just think living 30-50 years longer than the average life expectancy just by not drinking or smoking.

Living to 100

DES MOINES — Work hard, have a strong faith, eat food that grows on plants, get along with people and refrain from smoking, drinking alcohol and “carousing.”

Those were among the secrets to longevity offered by 26 Iowa centenarians who were honored at a luncheon at the State Historical Building on Monday.

The 2010 U.S. Census reported that Iowa has 793 residents aged 100 or older — including Dina Manfredini, a 114-year-old Johnston woman who state Department on Aging officials say is inching close to being the oldest living person in the world.

On Monday, Gov. Terry Branstad fulfilled a campaign promise when his administration reinstituted a tradition of honoring the state’s oldest residents — an event held for the first time in at least three years that drew a crowd of 170 people.

“I’ve always thought this was a real highlight. I think we need to honor and recognize and respect these people,” Branstad said. “I think it’s the biggest number we’ve ever had at one of these. It was great.”

Is Bete the world's oldest person?

    December 01 2005 at 05:48AM

By Lebogang Seale and Ngwanya Mazwi

Who is the oldest person in the world?

Well, she may be living in South Africa.

A 119-year-old Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, woman is possibly the oldest living person in SA and may be the oldest person living in the world today.

'I was very strong during my time and I am still strong'
Noninji Elizabeth Bete was born on May 21 1886. The soft-spoken mother of seven can still get around with the aid of a walking stick.

"I was very strong during my time and I am still strong," she said on Wednesday, shaking her fists to demonstrate her strength.

According to the Guinness World Records website, the oldest "fully authentic age" to which a person has ever lived is 122. The record was held by Jean Louise Calment, who was born in France on February 21, 1875. She died in 1997.

Bete, who turns 120 in May next year, could well surpass that record, judging by her health and strength.

The current record for the oldest living person is held by 114-year-old American Elizabeth Bolden.

She became the oldest person following the death of Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper, of the Netherlands, who died in August this year.

Maryna Daniels, a senior official at the local department of home affairs, confirmed that Bete was the oldest living South African.

"I was phoned by a social worker this afternoon to confirm that the ID number was indeed correct. I then checked in the population register and saw she was the only person still alive who was born in the 1880s," said Daniels.

Bete can't remember much about her past. She said she had worked as a nanny for a white family at a nearby farm. "When the family's children grew up, I then worked as a domestic worker," Bete said, letting her toothless gums beam.

She remembers that her family moved from a farm to Grahamstown, where they settled in Tantyi township.

"We had no cars in our days and we used horse-drawn carriages," she recalled.

She also noted that there were no traffic lights in those days. "There used to be someone giving directions by waving his hands in the middle of the road."

She attributed her long life to her parents, who had taught her to respect other people and not drinking alcohol.

Bete, who can't remember when her husband died, had seven children, three of whom are still alive. She also has 15 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren. She said her greatest wish was to meet Nelson Mandela.

Ecuadoran woman who once drank donkey milk is now world's oldest


QUITO (AFP) - A clean-living Ecuadoran woman who as a girl drank donkey milk is now -- at 116 -- the world's oldest living person, her daughter told AFP.

Maria Esther Heredia Lecaro now holds the Guinness Book record, her daughter Hilda Capovilla, 80, said Friday.

Capovilla is the third of five children of longevity record-holder Heredia Lecaro, who spent her girlhood on a coastal family farm, and went on to wed an Austrian military engineer who died back in 1949.

The woman turned 116 September 14.

"My mother has no health problems, not cholesterol ... not high blood pressure," her daughter said, noting that her mother played the piano, and has never smoked or drunk alcohol. "She feeds herself, handles the dishes wonderfully, and doesn't depend on anyone."

Three of Heredia Lecaro's children are still alive, and she has 11 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, her daughter said.

The oldest living man is a Puerto Rican, Emiliano Mercado Del Toro, who turned 114 in January.

No bottling it for 125-year-old

INDIAN authorities say a man believed to be 125 years old and who has shunned alcohol and tobacco, could be the world’s oldest person.

Habib Miyan, from Jaipur in Rajasthan state, has a pension book which records his date of birth as May 20, 1878.

Oldest Man Turns 115 in Puerto Rico

Associated Press Writer

August 22, 2006, 7:44 AM CDT

ISABELA, Puerto Rico -- The world's oldest person celebrated his 115th birthday Monday, offering advice on healthy living at a party where he was serenaded by a well-known Puerto Rican singer.

Emiliano Mercado del Toro, who was a boy when the United States seized Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898, attributed his long life to a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol.

"I never damaged my body with liquor," said Mercado.

Mercado was declared the world's oldest person by the Guinness Book of Records last year.

"I never thought I would last so long," he said.

An ambulance carried him to an outdoor plaza where family, friends and the mayor gathered for the party. His favorite performer, Iris Chacon, crooned a birthday tune set to mariachi music.

"I feel happy," said the wheelchair-bound Mercado, who has difficulty hearing and has been blind for four years. He lives with a niece in the northwestern coastal town of Isabela.

Mercado was recruited into the U.S. army in 1918, during the last months of World War I. He was still in training when the war ended in November of that year.

As a young man, Mercado said he worked for 50 cents a day driving animals loaded with sugar cane to processing centers.

The mayor of Isabela, Charlie Delgado, said a residence for the elderly would be named for Mercado in honor of a man who "ate healthy, had no major vices and who has put this island on the world stage."

Guinness had recognized another Puerto Rican as being the world's oldest person. Ramona Trinidad Iglesias Jordan died May 29, 2004, after a bout with pneumonia. She was 114.

World's Oldest Man Dies In Japan

TOKYO, Sept. 29, 2003

(AP) Yukichi Chuganji, a retired silkworm breeder documented as the world's oldest man, died at his home in Japan at age 114, his family said Monday.

Chuganji was pronounced dead from natural causes Sunday evening, said his 65-year-old nephew, Tadao Haji.

Bedridden in recent years, Chuganji had been living with his 72-year-old daughter Kyoko in the city of Ogori, about 550 miles southwest of Tokyo.

He had just finished drinking some apple juice when his family noticed he wasn't looking well, Haji said.

"As always, he had been thanking everyone for taking such good care of him and for cooking his meals," Haji said of Chuganji's last day.

Chuganji was born March 23, 1889 in the farming town of Chikushino on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu. He worked as a silkworm breeder and adviser after graduating from technical school in the early 1900s.

He liked to eat beef and pork with his meals of rice and miso soup. He would drink milk everyday but didn't consume alcohol.

Kyushu is also home to the world's oldest person, a 116-year-old woman named Kamato Hongo.

Japan's oldest man is now Kameni Nakamura, who turns 109 on Friday, said Hideki Matsumoto, of the health ministry. Nakamura lives at a retirement home in Okinawa, which is famous for its high concentration of old people.

Japanese officials said that, with Chuganji's death, they did not know who the oldest living man in the world was.


St. Charles woman dies at age 106

Posted 11/28/2004

Leta Marshall was pulling for the Grand Old Party in the November elections.

Which isn't remarkable until you consider she was born three years before one of the best-known Republicans of the 20th century - Theodore Roosevelt - even took office.

"She said, 'I don't know what we're going to do if the Democrats get elected,'ć" said Karen Pritchard, a granddaughter who lives in Sycamore. "So I got her a Bush/Cheney yard sign."

Marshall, a lifelong St. Charles resident, died Wednesday at the age of 106.

Marshall, who was born on a St. Charles farm, lived in her own home in St. Charles despite her advanced age.

Marshall did not want to live in a nursing home, and her children honored that request. Up until Tuesday, she was living with her dog, Bud, a gift from Pritchard, and a caretaker.

Her grandson Lonnie Marshall lived about a block away from her in St. Charles. After he finished working the third shift, Lonnie drove his grandmother, who never had a driver's license, to a senior citizens program.

"She liked it and that was one of my favorite memories," he said. "She loved doing her crossword puzzles and word searches and keeping her mind sharp."

She was also quite the jokester, Pritchard said.

"Her favorite was I would say, 'How do you feel grandma?' and she would say 'With my fingers.'ć"

Marshall would sometimes tell her children about the days when she was growing up.

One was about how she would heat up bricks, wrap them in towels and use them to keep their feet warm when traveling to church in a horse-drawn buggy, said her son, Marcus.

Marshall's primary duty on the family farm was bringing the cows across Ferson Creek, a task that scared her to death because she couldn't swim, Marcus Marshall said. So she resorted to finding the creek's shallow parts and walking them through there.

Born at a time when there were no cars, radios, televisions or computers, she saw the world we know today as it was being invented.

"She lived in a transformation age when you went darn near the stone age to modern society," Marcus said.

Marshall attended school in Wasco and graduated with the class of 1917 from St. Charles High School. Before she graduated, she took a teacher's exam and was eventually placed at a school in Gilberts. Her second assignment was in rural St. Charles.

She married Marcus F. Marshall in 1919, whose father had built a log cabin and settled in St. Charles in 1843. They'd met while they were members of First Methodist Church.

Marshall was a devout Christian, her son said. She never drank alcohol, hardly wore jewelry - except her wedding ring, a crucifix and watch - and didn't believe in smoking.

"She was very mad when I started to smoke at age 16 just before World War II," Marcus said. "She said, 'If you don't quit, why, you'll have to pay me to do your laundry."

The family was frugal, and instead of changing clothes in a dressing room when vacationing in Lake Geneva, they covered the windows of their Model A Ford with newspapers and changed right there.

"She was strong-willed, so she sort of bossed the whole family around, which is good," Marcus said. "She was quite a gal."

Survivors also include grandchildren Sharon Freund and Lynn Marshall; great-grandchildren Sean and Colin Pritchard, Chris and Jody Freund and Corey and Cale Marshall; and one great-great-grandchild, Wyatt Freund. Her husband, Marcus, daughter Marilyn Marshall and son Milton, preceded her in death.

August 23, 2002; Mrs. Adelina (Engargiola) Domingues , recently accepted as the oldest living American at 114 years old, has died. We have just learned from her grand-daughter that Mrs. Domingues died on Wednesday, August 21, 2002 at 1:30 PM PDT of congestive heart failure at the San Diego nursing home in Spring Valley, CA where she lived. She was born February 19, 1888 in Brava, Cape Verde Islands (off the coast of West Africa). After her marriage, she moved to Massachusetts in 1907.

Adelina attributed her longevity to her daily regimen of eating vegetables and beans and her life-long abstinence from any form of alcohol or tobacco. But she also thought she lived longer because she "never played cards or went to a beauty parlor," something she was very proud of. She was also an expert seamstress.

Information has been provided to us by her daughter-in-law Rosalie Domingues of Santee, CA. For more details, see Tony Perry, "Adelina Domingues, 114; Oldest Person in the U.S.," The Los Angeles Times, p. B20 (August 24, 2002) for her Obituary.


Mrs. Elma Grace (Tennis) Corning, age 111, who was born in Iowa on February 22, 1892 but has lived in Los Angeles since 1921. She now resides at the Kingsley Manor Nursing Home near Hollywood. She had one brother, 2-years younger, who died at age 70. Her Mother, Jessie, died at age 87, while her Father Addison, who was a farmer and a pilot during World War I, died at age 48 of severe arthritis. She was married, and her husband, who was in the Navy in San Diego in 1918 during World War I, worked in Los Angeles as a linotype operator. He died in 1956. They had just one son, Russell, who married for the first time to his wife Mandel when he was 53 and she was 52, so they have no children of their own.
After graduation from college in 1912, Elma taught Home Economics in a local high school. Once she moved to Los Angeles, she worked as a house keeper and for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Assistance. She is relaxed, easy going, and doesn't worry much. "I'm too busy to do exercises," she said.
She never smoked or drank, but she really enjoys bacon and coffee, and pie or cake for desert. She played the organ for the Presbyterian Church in Ohio when she was 16. She served as an Officer in the Congregational Church since 1935 and was President of their Woman's Association. Her secret to a long life is "to work hard and have a great desire to accomplish something."

Mrs. Mamie Legg who was born on January 9, 1894 in Georgia and died in Colorado on June 13, 2005 at age 111.
On the morning of her 110th birthday, she was asked about the secret to living so long. She responded, "No drinking, no drugs, no alcohol, no smoking. Going to church." And in between, she shared more than a century of stories. "All these things make up a life," she said. "I guess I just did the best I could with the time I had. Life is what you make it, Honey."


Zydeco and Cake Make a Happy 110th
Union City woman one of oldest in the world

- Benjamin Pimentel, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, February 9, 2001


Lily Wilkinson's neighbors and friends threw her a birthday party yesterday -- which made them feel quite a bit younger.

Wilkinson turned 110, making her not only the oldest resident at the Masonic Homes of California in Union City but perhaps the oldest person in the Bay Area and one of the oldest people in the world.

"My goodness, look at all these nice people," she said, wearing a purple scarf and sitting in her wheelchair, her wrinkled hands folded on her lap. "I'm surprised to think that I could see all these nice people looking at Lily Wilkinson."

Her guests laughed and then sang for her the traditional "Happy Birthday to You" which had not yet been composed when she was born in the Tyne and Wear region of England in 1891.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Wilkinson is only five years younger than the oldest living person in the world, 115-year-old Eva Morris, who also was born in the United Kingdom, on Nov. 18, 1885.

Wilkinson attributes her long life to "good genes" and the fact that she never smoked or drank It seems a good bet that Wilkinson is older than anyone in the Bay Area.


Leavitt, member of pioneer Clark County family, dies at 100

By Ed Koch <>

Las Vegas residents of the 1950s so trusted dry cleaning delivery man Woodruff "Woody" Leavitt that they gave him duplicates of their house keys so he could get into their homes when they were out and hang the freshly-pressed apparel in their closets.

One of his daughters recalled that Leavitt would go to work at Society Cleaners with as many as 200 house keys hanging from his key ring.

"Daddy was an honest, clean, good man who people really trusted," said Nola Cox, the oldest of Leavitt's six children. "And although he never had much money in his lifetime, he was always there to help someone in need."

Leavitt, a member of the construction crew that built the first road across the Mormon Mesa 80 years ago and one of the oldest living people born in Clark County, died Sunday at a retirement home in St. George, Utah. He was 100.

In a March 12 Sun story marking his 100th birthday, Leavitt attributed his longevity to clean living and staying mentally active. He neither smoked nor drank alcohol.


World’s oldest man dies

Sunday November 21, 2004

BNE: The oldest man in the world died yesterday. Supercentenarian Fred Hale Senior died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 113, just two weeks before his 114th birthday. He became the world's oldest man in March after Joan Riudavets Moll of Spain died aged 114. He had five children, nine grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

Hale was born on in a different time in history, on December 1, 1890, before the invention of radio, airplanes, Corn Flakes and escalators. He was born in the same year Wilhelm II of Germany fired Bismarck, Idaho became the 43rd US state, Vincent Van Gogh killed himself, and the Meiji constitution started in Japan. He was 17 when he saw his first car, but was too old to serve in World War One.

He was in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest driver when he renewed his driving license aged 104, but gave up driving four years ago because New York drivers were “too slow”. He never smoked, drank alcohol and ate a teaspoon of honey every morning. His grandson said he didn’t need a lot to be happy.


World's oldest man dies at age of 114
Posted Sun, 07 Mar 2004

A Spaniard thought to be the oldest man in the world has died at the age of 114, his family said on Saturday.

Joan Ruidavets Moll died from the effects of a cold on Friday night, on the Balearic island of Minorca, his relatives told the Spanish media.

Ruidavets, who spent his entire working life as a cobbler, was born on December 15, 1889, in Es Migjorn, where he also died.

His wife, who was born in the same year as he was, died at the age of 90.

Mediterranean diet, sleep

Ruidavets attributed his great age to his Mediterranean diet, based on tomatoes, fish and olive oil, the fact that he slept 15 hours a night and only rarely drank coffee and didn’t drink alcohol.

Ruidavets was the world's oldest man, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

He took over the title from Japan's Yukichi Chuganji, who died in September 2003, also aged 114.

The world's oldest living woman is 113-year-old Charlotte Benkner, a naturalised American who was born in Germany on November 16, 1889, according to the Guinness Book of Records website.

The world's oldest person ever was France's Jeanne-Louise Calment, who was born on February 21, 1875, and lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days. She died on August 4, 1997.

"(Calment) led an extremely active life, taking up fencing at 85 years old and was still riding a bicycle at 100. She portrayed herself at the age of 114 in the film 'Vincent And Me', to become the oldest actress in film," the Guinness website says.


Aging gracefully

Michael Jaenicke-Assistant Features editor

MAXTON - She may not be older than the hills, but Carrie Mae McDonald is older than most of the pine trees surrounding her Maxton home.

In a life spread out over three different centuries, McDonald, 109, has lived through 20 U.S. presidents, two World Wars and seven other major wars. At various times, she has lived without modern comforts of life such as automobiles, electricity, indoor plumbing, television, microwave ovens and computers.

Despite having a difficult time hearing, and walking a bit slower than she used to, McDonald will turn 110 on Dec. 4., continuing her inexorable march toward a world record.

One news agency reports that the oldest documented person, Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the age of 122. Former title-holder Hanna Barsevich of Minsk, Belarus, was 116 before dying in 2003. Charlotte Benkner was 113 before dying in November of that same year in Cleveland. According to the "Guinness World Book of Records," Benker wore the oldest living crown after Japan's Mitoyo Kawate died at age 114. McDonald said she has outlived her seven younger siblings, her husband and his two children, and numerous friends and family members half her age through good genetics and by what she's stayed away from and what she's embraced.

Her list of "no-nos" include things that have taken down many a person early in their retirement years.

"No alcohol, no tobacco, no coffee or tea and no swearing and never say a cross word," McDonald said.

She also says the "must-do frequently" list is just as important.

"Eat right and live right and do what God wants you to do," McDonald said. "You have to do things for others, care for them. I've lived so long because God wanted me to take care of people. God had a reason."

 Albanian woman is dead at 123

By Reuters, 11/10/2003

TIRANA, Albania -- The oldest woman in Albania, and perhaps the world, died Saturday at age 123 and was buried yesterday beside the husband she resented being forced to marry at 14.

Born Aug. 22, 1880, Hava Rexha breathed her last on Saturday in the picturesque central Albanian village of Shushice, where she had spent her life.

Wrapped in a faded shroud that she embroidered for herself when her elderly husband died a few years after World War II, Rexha was buried in the Shushice cemetery. Hundreds of people joined her only surviving daughter, Vule, 80, and 120 other members of her family to pay their respects at a Muslim ceremony that local reporters described as "majestic."

Interviewed a month before her 122d birthday, Rexha said she resented her forced marriage to a man who was "about 60 and married twice before as well."

"I didn't love my husband. He was an old man," said Rexha, who had six children, four of whom died in childhood. Rexha had carried out household chores and tough farming jobs, including pasturing livestock. A devout Muslim who never touched alcohol, drank coffee, and enjoyed butter.

News reports said that National Commercial Bank had been giving Rexha $100 a month to help her grandson's family look after her and that the bank had begun action to register her with the Guinness Book of World Records. If Guinness had received and authenticated her documents, she would have entered the records book as the oldest person who ever lived, beating Jeanne-Louise Calment, a Frenchwoman who died in August 1997 at age 122 years and 164 days.


By Tampa man's count, he's 120 years old

Juan Ramos is so old he called airplanes "ships with wings" when she was growing up, granddaughter Maria Mora recalls.


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000

TAMPA -- If the passport is right, Juan Ramos turns 120 today.

That easily would make him the oldest man on Earth, a record now officially held by an Oklahoma man who is only 110.

But Guinness World Records, famous for its book, television show and stringent qualifications, does not recognize Ramos because there is no clear way to prove he was actually born in 1880.

A Cuban passport, issued before Ramos moved to the United States in 1994, shows Ramos' date of birth as June 24, 1880. Not acceptable for Guinness, but good enough for the Tampa Housing Authority.

While Ramos might not be the oldest man in the world, it's clear he is the senior tenant at the J.L. Young Apartments on N Florida Avenue. Friday, residents gathered to celebrate Ramos and, perhaps, 12 decades of life.

"Some think he is, some think he's not," said 80-year-old apartment resident Robert Prior.

The facts didn't figure into Friday's celebration, which featured Latin music, a large cake and a white-haired man just happy to be alive on the eve of his birthday.

"The secret to good health is to abstain from alcohol and smoking cigarettes," Ramos said through an interpreter.


Oldest American dies age 114

A woman described as the oldest living American and the third oldest person in the world has died at the age of 114.

Elena Slough passed away in the state of New Jersey just three days after her 90-year-old daughter died at the same nursing home where they both lived.

Mrs Slough, who is believed to have been born in 1888, lived through seven US wars, 21 presidents, and 12 US territories gaining statehoods.

The world's oldest person is a Japanese woman Kamato Hongo, who turned 116 last month.

The world's second oldest person is believed to be 114-year-old Mitoyo Kawate, also Japanese.

Mrs Slough died in her sleep on Sunday at the Victoria Manor Nursing Home in the resort town of Cape May, an official said.

With her death, the oldest American and third oldest person in the world, is now Charlotte Benkner of North Lima, Ohio, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

The German-born woman will turn 114 on 16 November.

Last month, a retired Japanese silkworm breeder believed to have been the world's oldest man died at the age of 114.

Yukichi Chuganji drank milk every day, but did not consume alcohol.

There are an estimated 15,000 people in Japan over the age of 100, most of them women.

Japan has the world's longest life expectancy - 78 years for men and 80 for women.

The oldest person on record was a French woman, Jeanne Calment, who was 122 when she died in 1997.


World's oldest person dies at 115
Big News Network
Wednesday 31st August, 2005  (UPI)

A Dutch woman believed to be the oldest person in the world died peacefully in her sleep early Tuesday.

Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, nicknamed Henny, spent her last years in a nursing home in Hoogeveen in the northeast part of the Netherlands, Expatica reported.

Van Andel-Schipper was born in a small town, Smilde, on June 29, 1890.

She was premature and undersized, and her mother did not expect her to live. On May 30, 2004, she was officially recognized as the world's oldest person.

Van Andel-Schipper was almost 50 when she married and never had children. Her husband, Dick Van Andel, died in 1959.

She lived in her own apartment until the age of 106.

Van Andel-Schipper attributed her longevity to abstaining from alcohol, and staying active.

After celebrating the coronations of three Dutch queens, Van Andel-Schipper was a big fan of the royal family. She was a longtime follower of the Amsterdam soccer team Ajax, which honored her with a personal visit on her 114th birthday.


  In a youthful state of mind
4 local seniors back up studies on wise lifestyle choices

By Stephanie Shapiro
Sun Staff
Published November 26, 2004

Not everyone has to read the research on longevity and health to know that a sound diet and regular exercise can delay what was once thought to be the inevitable debilitation of old age.

Wise lifestyle choices, whether made early or later in life, can lead to a vigorous existence at any age, according to four studies reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In one study, researchers found that seniors 70 to 90 years old who rely on a diet rich in grains, olive oil, produce and fish and who get moderate exercise and don't drink or smoke, reduce their mortality rate by 50 percent. Another study linked an overall healthy lifestyle with reduced mortality. Two studies found evidence that the simple act of walking lowers the risk for dementia and cognitive decline.

The four fit seniors profiled below understand intuitively what researchers say with statistics: Age is just a number.

Hitting her stride

It wasn't until she was 46 and decided to accompany her husband on daily walks after he suffered a heart attack that Yvonne Aasen got acquainted with her inner runner.

"I can still see the boys going to track practice in high school," says Aasen, 73, who grew up on a North Dakota farm and now lives in Severna Park. "I still remember how envious I was," she says. No girls' team existed.

Those daily walks with her husband became daily runs. Today, dozens of medals, plaques and trophies later, Aasen, the mother of five and grandmother of eight, says, "I fulfilled myself by winning awards after the disappointment of not being able to run in high school."

With vindication comes vitality.

She only takes medication for bone health and to maintain her thyroid level. "I don't take anything for blood pressure or cholesterol," she says. "For my age, apparently that's quite good."

Aasen eats bread, pasta, a lot of vegetables and fruit, but few desserts and candy. Her slender figure may look effortless, but it's not, she says.

Running, and finding that she had a talent for it, has given her the confidence to do things she never would have considered before. When she was younger, Aasen says, she was "very nonassertive." Now, "because I can run I can do many things, such as get up and speak in public."

It's not just the running; it's the competition that motivates her, and motivates her training. Aasen has placed at or near the top in races around the country, including the Senior Olympics Nationals.

"I like to win," she says. Often, her husband, Marvin, and dog Fawn are there to cheer her on.

When in peak shape, Aasen runs an average of 12 to 15 miles a week. She has raced as far as 10 miles, and has clocked a personal best of 29 minutes in a 5K race.

Last year, she ran 22 races. This year, bursitis of the hip, an overuse injury, has limited her. It's frustrating, she says, but she is working her way back to competitive form.

Running "gave me something that was my own," Aasen says. "That's what I do."

Hooping it up

Bill Harris plays basketball three times a week with the Cloverdale Athletic Club Baltimore Basketball Association, the league he helped found 30 years ago. Every summer, Harris and other league members coach as many as 400 kids as part of a youth program.

"I feel good," says Harris, 69, who proudly proclaims that he hasn't had to see a doctor in years.

He doesn't drink or smoke, and he eats moderately. "I'm careful about what I eat and how much I eat," he says. "No soda pops." He favors "country cooking," and nothing raw, such as "lettuce and tomatoes, you know. I like my vegetables cooked."

Harris, a widower with three daughters, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, is always on the move. He's a contractor, a business owner and he owns a rental property.

"I keep busy," he says.

At his home in Baltimore's Northwood neighborhood, Harris is often at work on one of three computers. "It's not good to sit still because death approaches too quickly if you're not using your limbs or thinking ability," he says.

Harris plays the blues guitar, mostly for his own pleasure. At times, though, he's been known to strum something more romantic "when I'm courting a lady friend."

Standing 6 feet 2, with a wiry, 175-pound frame, Harris has played basketball since he was 9. He's an aggressive player who plays for two hours at a time with other men middle-aged and older. His game is old-school - "none of that fancy dribbling" - and so is his philosophy when it comes to injuries.

"I get nicked up, bruised here and there," he says. "I'd rather be sore because of a game of pickup basketball as opposed to having a hangover from alcohol."

Fitness focused

Two years ago, Mary Scroggins retired from her job as manager of a dry-cleaning plant. No longer on her feet all day, Scroggins, then 62 and widowed, gained 20 pounds and became less flexible.

So she joined a fitness class at the Waxter Senior Center in Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood. She lost 10 pounds, got back in shape and found new friends.

"Sitting in the house will mentally age you overnight," she says.

After 30 minutes on the treadmill, Scroggins takes three "body tune-up" classes a week that provide 40 minutes of supervised cardio and resistance training.

Scroggins, a resident of Heritage Crossing in West Baltimore, also walks a lot - to Lexington Market, the doctor's and the Waxter Center.

"Exercise helps maintain my cholesterol," Scroggins says. "I eat basically what I want to eat. I eat salads and diet soda and try to stay away from snacks."

Scroggins takes medicine for her cholesterol, "when it's high," as well as vitamins, baby aspirin, garlic tablets and calcium.

By getting out of the house daily, Scroggins, a grandmother of six, maintains her spirits. Often, she'll take the light rail to Owings Mills Mall, where she will watch a matinee, have lunch and take "all day to find the bargains I want."

When her granddaughter Angel accompanies her, Scroggins' fast pace tires the 8-year-old, she says.

At home, Scroggins cooks for herself. Every four months she prepares a large batch of collard greens and freezes them in small helpings. "I do the same thing with soup," she says.

She used to eat a lot of junk food. "As I got older, I had to change up a little bit," she says. The "change up" has paid off.

"I have no problem with growing old," she says.

Lifelong goal

Once a "muscle head," always a "muscle head."

So says Ed Lanehart, who started lifting weights at age 14. Now 69, the champion bowler and retired Baltimore County physical education teacher has the physique of a much younger man.

Taking a break from a weekly practice session in a bowling alley near his
Ellicott City home, Lanehart catalogs the advantages of living healthfully.

A lifelong commitment to staying in shape has allowed him to maintain flexibility in his bowling hand in spite of arthritis. Lanehart, who works out in his home gym several times a week, also credits a quick recovery from prostate cancer three years ago to steady exercise.

Lanehart, who is married, has two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, doesn't smoke or drink, and prefers fish and chicken to red meat.

"I'm a no-fat kind of person," he says, although he does like nuts and other sources of beneficial fats.

Retired from teaching in 1992, Lanehart started a musical entertainment business called A Salute to Great Gentlemen of Song. In nursing homes and retirement communities, he performs the music of Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and others.

Until arthritis limited the range of motion in his left hand, (he bowls with his right), he also played Dixieland music on the four-string banjo.

As he has grown older, Lanehart says he has worked to resist his "Type A" tendencies. "It's a lot easier on the nerves," he says.

The four studies focusing on elderly health published in September's Journal of the American Medical Association offer encouragement to those who may fear that to grow old is to grow infirm.

·  A study conducted in Europe found that a "Mediterranean-style diet," moderate physical activity, no alcohol use and not smoking can lower mortality by more than 50 percent.

·  A study conducted in Italy found that the same diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish and grains may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

·  A study of 18,766 U.S. women ages 70 to 81 found that physical activity, including walking, "is associated with significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline in older women."

·  A fourth study of elderly men suggests that walking can reduce the risk for dementia.


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