As he does religiously three times a week, Fred Strong hit the gym last Friday and plowed through his regular workout routine — 20 minutes on the track, followed by 20 minutes of muscle-building exercises.
No matter that it was his 99th birthday.
“Unless I’ve got a doctor’s appointment, I don’t miss my workouts,” the Battery Creek resident said. “It’s very easy for old people to spend all day sitting on the couch. Going to the gym gives me a reason to get up and get moving.”
Strong joined Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s LifeFit Wellness Center three years ago after developing shortness of breath, known medically as dyspnea. His doctor put him on oxygen 24/7 and recommended pulmonary rehabilitation to help improve the chronic condition.
“He wanted me to build up my endurance so it wouldn’t get worse,” Strong said. “I enjoyed going to the Wellness Center so much, I became a member.”
At the medically-supervised facility — the only one of its kind in Beaufort — staff members are available to check his oxygen level and blood pressure before and after each workout. They also provide him with a cart equipped with an oxygen tank.
“I push it around the track when I walk,” Strong said. “When I work out on the machines, I roll it up next to me.”
The oldest member of the gym, the near-centenarian serves as an example to others that it’s never to late to start exercising.
“You look at him and you realize you have no excuses,” said Graham Jones, a clinical exercise physiologist at LifeFit Wellness Center. “Fred can do it all. He may walk a little slower than some of our other members, but he’s very motivated.”
Inspired by Strong’s commitment to exercising, his 70-year-old wife Lois joined the gym and now accompanies him to the Wellness Center every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
In addition to walking and working out on the machines, the couple also participates in Chair Yoga, one of a variety of free classes open to members. Rather than perform the more difficult therapeutic poses of traditional yoga, they focus on deep breathing and meditation.
“Exercising has helped me maintain my health,” Strong said. “And I enjoy talking with the staff. Everyone is so nice.”
But when people ask him the secret to living a long life he tells them: “It’s just three little letters: NSB. Never stop breathing.”
To learn more about LifeFit Wellness Center, call 843-522-5635 or visit www.bmhsc.org.