Gregory D. Hamilton
Fitness and Friends!
Friends and Fitness Make All the Difference
Here’s a universal story about the power of exercise and friendship, even if it involves circumstances, locations, and activities most people might never do.
Exercising with a group helps ensure success. And sometimes, nothing’s more important than good friends.
That’s what Diane Firmani has learned in recent years.
“Being in a group appeals to me – I like to sign up!” says an enthusiastic Diane, a 68-year-old multi-athlete who stays active outdoors all year long in Wasilla, Alaska. (Back row, left in the photo.)
In summer, she runs 5Ks and half-marathons. Year-round, she travels all over the country to compete in triathlons – swimming, biking, and running all in one race.
And in the winter, when she’s not out with friends riding fat-tire bikes over snow and frozen lakes, the retired school librarian is on the hockey rink, playing with her women’s team that includes five members over age 50.
All the fun took a severe and spiritual turn a few years ago when her husband suffered a debilitating stroke. She cared for him for several years until his passing.
“It has been a challenging time,” Diane says.
“And those girls have stood by me. They support me. They’re true blues.”
Diane’s experiences prove all kinds of points about staying fit after 50. It’s fun. It’s social. You can diversify your workouts no matter where you are.
Exercising with Others: It Works!
And by staying active in groups, Diane personifies what experts say: Exercising with a friend or group dramatically raises your chances of sticking to it.
That’s true across the board. Studies show:
Working with a partner or on a team improves performance and doubles workout times, according to The Society of Behavioral Medicine
Ninety-five percent of people who participated in a group weight-loss program finished it, compared to 76 percent who participated alone.
Working out with others is more fun, a University of Southern California study found.
That’s why I offer a range of options for people who want to exercise with others. Talk to me about the possibilities.
‘I don’t think of myself as old’
Diane’s team plays every year in the C Cup Women’s Hockey Classic, which brings together women from across the state.
“Sometimes people say you’re too old, or women shouldn’t play hockey, but I don’t care,” Diane says. “I don’t think of myself as old. I don’t feel old.
“I used to have more of a grandma image – white hair and a walker… But I’m nothing like that.”
Diane’s advice to people over 50 who don’t know how to start getting fit?
No. 1: Get moving.
“And for me, get a friend, get a buddy,” Diane says.
“You keep each other motivated, and you hold each other accountable.”
“Since my husband’s stroke, there are days when it’s hard, and it’s easier not to go play or work out. That’s where my friends come in. That’s my tribe. That’s who I count on.”