Our friend Joanie Packer says she doesn’t worry about things she can’t do anything about — so she lives in the present, works at being as healthy as possible and tries to show appreciation to those around her.
At 94, how is your life different than when you first retired?
Joan: Back in Missouri, I used to rise at six a.m., spend my days teaching high school English and dream about a life of leisure when I could sleep late. But when I did retire, I was bored and depressed. In my 70s I moved from my farm to a condo in Waikiki. When I saw how physically fit and healthy everyone looked walking around Kapiolani park, I decided I wanted to be like that, too. Now, 28 years later, I exercise six days a week and I’m no longer bored and depressed.
Six days a week sounds like a lot. What kind of exercise classes are you taking?
Joan: It didn’t happen overnight. At age 77, I started an exercise plan. We began with tubing and light weights, and worked up to the stability ball and balance work to prevent falls. Strength training keeps my muscle mass and bone density, so I don’t get frail and weak. The better I feel, the more I want to try other classes like Pilates and Yoga. In class we all encourage each other.
Believe me, I am inherently lazy and do not really relish working out. So going to classes and having a trainer to ride herd on me and hold me accountable is important. I figure my health and independence are worth the effort.
What else you do to stay fit?
Joan: I think walking is really important. On the days I don’t walk to class, I walk around the park, the zoo and sometimes up Diamond Head Road. That 40-
Besides exercise — do you have any other recommendations?
Joan: Food! I gave up my starchy Midwestern farm fare for fruits, vegetables, fish and poultry, soups and lentils. Now I crave healthy foods. I also recommend a positive mental outlook — that makes life fulfilling at any age.