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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2003

Many in Hawai'i cite fitness as essential part of life

Advertiser Staff

A new health and fitness survey of Hawai'i residents 50 years old and older shows that most rate their health as "good" and say exercise plays an important role in their staying that way.

The survey was conducted in April and May by AARP Hawai'i, which sent surveys to 5,000 randomly selected members. Of those members, 2,771 responded statewide.

Eighty-seven percent of respondents rate their health as "good" and nearly half say they are very satisfied with their lives. The members say their top five approaches to staying healthy are eating right, getting regular health checkups, reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise.

Among members who exercise, 74 percent say they exercise outdoors, and three out of five describe their level of exercise as moderate.

Akiko Matsumoto, 58, said he has completed 12 marathons and runs once or twice a week to stay in shape.

"If you take two or three weeks off, it's hard to get started again," Matsumoto said yesterday, stretching at Ala Moana Park after a run.

Jerry and Gwen Lee of Makiki took one of their thrice-weekly walks around Magic Island yesterday.

"We love to eat. That's why we walk," Jerry said.

Among non-exercisers who responded to the survey, half agree that they should exercise more. Their reasons for not exercising include the expense of a class or gym membership, health problems or simply not getting around to it.

"People are living longer and longer these days," said Jackie McCarter, associate state director of AARP Hawai'i. "You live in your body, and if you don't take care of your body, where are you going to live?

"If you look at the cost of long-term care, it is important to our society for people who are living so much longer to stay in (the) best possible health. If you are going to live 20 years longer, it is great if you can have a high quality of life while you are doing it."

AARP has organized a series of workshops in response to the survey to help people become more physically active and healthy, and the classes have been filled.

A program called Shape Up Across Hawai'i also has been developed to encourage physical activity.

The program includes a 400-mile virtual journey across the state. Participants count the minutes spent being active — including running, walking, surfing, gardening, dancing and even using a wheelchair — and apply them as miles traveled in their journey.

To participate in the programs, visit the Web site at www.shapeuphawaii.org, or call AARP in Honolulu at 843-1906.

AARP is a nationwide nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and older. Visit online at www.aarp.org.