Here at Senior Directory we’ve been trying to focus on healthy aging by spotlighting seniors from very different ages and walks of life who are living healthy lives. One of the best things a person can do is work out, not only for physical health, but because science has shown the endorphins released by exercise actually make you happier. We had great time getting to know Andree Vetter, who at 81 still bikes, does yoga and lifts weights. She had some wonderful insights into working out into your retirement.

Senior Directory (SD): How old are you and where are you from.

Andree Vetter (AV): I’m 81 and I’m originally from Wisconsin, but we’ve lived in Virginia, Oklahoma, Washington (state), Washington DC and Colorado. In 1972 my husband worked for the narcotics division for the state of Wisconsin and when he asked what I thought about living in Colorado I said I’m packing.

SD: Did you grow up with athletics and exercise?

AV: No, back in my day there was nothing for females. We did volleyball but if the guys wanted the gym for basketball we always had to leave. But there was basically nothing (athletically) for women. And that has changed, which is a good thing!

SD: So what have you done in terms of athletics throughout your life?

AV: Well, bicycling is the big thing, my brother taught me how to ride my bike when I was five. I’ve biked off and on throughout my life either by myself or with friends. Then while retired I joined the Denver Bicycle Touring Club, and they have different divisions; they have mountain biking, they have fun rides, and our group is called roses and we are all seniors, because we like to stop and smell the roses. It’s a lot of fun to be with a group of people, it’s nice because you end becoming friends with the people in the group.

SD: Did you stay active in other ways?

AV: I’ve always enjoyed swimming and have been a member of the YMCA. In Wisconsin, years ago, we didn’t have very much money, so I would go door to door and passed out phone books so I could afford the $25 membership for the family. We went swimming a lot and hiking but I never thought of working with weights or anything at that time.

SD: At 81, what are you still doing today to keep yourself active?

AV: Well the main things are bicycling and yoga twice a week. In addition I go to the rec centers on Mondays and Wednesdays and work out with weights.

SD: What does the combination of weights and yoga do for you?

AV: I think it keeps me pretty fit, I think the balance is important as well. A lot of men and women experience falls and lose muscle mass when they get older, so that was the main reason I got into weight lifting.

SD: Do you think exercise has enhanced your life?

AV: Oh definitely, I’ve always been active, I’ve never been a couch potato and I find it difficult to sit and play cards. I have friends who will call sometimes and go “Why don’t we….” and I go no that’s sitting, I’m not doing that I’m going to keep going as long as I can.

SD: Do you feel that exercise has prolonged your life in any way?

AV: Probably, I mean a lot of it has to do with genetics, my brother is 92 and he’s still going, but obviously there are so many health benefits to working out.

SD: I wanted to touch on yoga, I was wondering if you could talk about the flexibility it provides and whether that has helped with your overall mobility?

AV: Definitely, I’m pretty stiff naturally so it has really helped with flexibility, but you just feel so good after you have done it it’s very relaxing.

SD: What would you recommend to a senior citizen who might have some apprehensions about working out?

AV: I have always pushed my friends into working out, it’s so good for you and the reality is that it is easy.

SD: What about the groups that you are in, what do they provide for you in terms of emotional and mental stimulation?

AV: Oh my hiking group definitely provides those things, and the bike club we’re friends and we go out to lunch sometimes.

SD: Have you had any major injuries?

AV: No, thank goodness! I started thinking about that last year when I was skiing and I’ve never had a ski injury, but then I heard a young lady in the sauna talking about a terrible shoulder injury, I’ve skied for a lot of years but I thought maybe it was time to give it up.

Intervew by Alex Milzer and Peter Gietl with Senior Directory, LLC