WEEKLY WORKOUT: Healthy Aging, You Just Adjust

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It's not necessarily about the length of life, rather it's the quality of life.  That's the philosophy at the Wesley Life Edgewater Retirement Community.

At first glance, you might think it's a fitness club.

"Let’s go ahead and take a big, deep breath to start with," says Wellness Director, Abby Harlacher.

It's actually the Edgewater Retirement Community in West Des Moines.

"We have 60-year-olds and we have 98-year-olds," says Harlacher.  "We work with all of them."

Today, Harlacher is putting the residents through a workout that includes cardio, strength training, balance and flexibility.  She divides the room up into stations.

"Our goal is to keep our heart rate up.  They work at their own pace."

"Whether it's kicking the Bosu or performing a tricep press, the participants are constantly moving.  Harlacher says they inspire her. "It makes me motivated to improve my health and stay healthy."

Seventy-seven-year-old David Dietz provides extra motivation.  Exercise has always been an important part of his life. "I’ve run seven marathons, seven half marathons, a whole bunch of 10k’s and 5k’s."

But after knee replacement, he had to switch things up a bit.  Instead of running, David took to the water.

"Both my wife and I compete in swim meets. I compete, she wins," Dietz says laughingly.

That's impressive, even more so when you consider Dietz is legally blind.

"You just adjust."

"Everybody thinks that as you get older, you can't maintain, you just decline," says Harlacher.  "That's not true."

Harlacher says before and after fitness assessments of Edgewater residents show improvement at every age.  Research also shows exercise improves cognitive ability.

"Everybody talks about their life span.  We want to increase their health span."

And with Dietz's attitude, there's little doubt he'll do both.

"I don’t know if it can extend life, but the more important thing is the quality of life."