Monday, May 07, 2001

Walking 1,088 miles without leaving home

West Chester Township man begins a trek to Denver on his health-club treadmill

By Carrie T. Henderson
Enquirer contributor

        It is not every day that Enquirer cameras invade the workout center at TriHealth Fitness Pavilion in Blue Ash. Today, the spotlight is on Jim Galati, 64, of West Chester Township. His workout buddies look at him with wonder.

        Jim answers their curiosity: “I've signed a multimillion dollar contract with New Balance shoes. They are taking photos for the endorsement.”

        OK, so maybe Jim is a joker and there really is no shoe deal.

        But, his actual accomplishments are just as amazing and even more grueling. By way of treadmill, Jim is walking the distance from Cincinnati to Denver. Jim began this 1,088-mile treadmill walk on Jan. 1. It was not a New Year's resolution that got Jim moving, rather it was advice from his doctor.

        “He told me to get off my lazy rear and start moving,” Jim recalls. And moving he is.

        As of the end of April, Jim was in Chillicothe, Mo.

Why Denver?

               Out of millions of cities, what made Denver the final destination?

        “There is nothing special about Denver,” Jim says. “I just wanted to keep my journey on a straight line.” That straight line runs from Cincinnati to Denver by passing just north of St. Louis into Hannibal, Mo., and on through Nebraska and into Colorado. He chose a distance that was feasible in one calendar year. Jim is expected to reach St. Joseph, Mo., in mid-May, which will be his halfway point.

Solo trip

        With six children and wife Nancy, Jim has plenty of support on his journey.

        But he is traveling this journey alone. After 42 years in the paper business, retirement provides ample time for exercise.

        “It is important to retire healthy,” Jim says. “Or else you will be playing catch-up with your body.”

        Jim can be spotted at TriHealth six days a week. He walks 7 1/2 miles on the treadmill, four days a week.

        The workout takes 99 minutes to complete and is set at a 4 1/2-degree incline. He covers 32 miles a week and 130 miles a month. Two days a week, Jim walks one mile as a warm-up to weight lifting.

        He takes Sundays off to spend time with his family and “read the Enquirer.”(We're not kidding). The journey has also helped Jim to shed 11 pounds.

        Because this workout is indoors, weather conditions never interfere.

        “I don't have to worry about any bad dogs,” Jim jokes. “However, the scenery never changes.”

        If all goes according to plan, Jim may be spending New Year's Eve in Denver.

        “Ice up the Coors!” he says.

        Completing the walk is not Jim's only goal: “I want to weigh 163pounds, have body fat between 11-12% and have a 32-inch waist,” he says. (He weighed 180 before he started his exercise routine and weighs 169 now.)

Sedentary older folks

        How many times have you heard, “Take it easy, you're not as young as you used to be?”

        It seems as if the majority of middle-aged and older Americans are following this advice. According to a survey:

        • 30 percent of Americans between ages 45-64 exercise regularly.

        • 32 percent of adults 65 and older get the recommended amount of exercise.

        If you use the excuse, “I'm too old to exercise,” a new excuse may be needed. Research has proven that it is never too late to get into shape. A study conducted at Tufts and Harvard University dispelled the myth that older people cannot increase their muscle strength or muscle mass.

        Researchers worked with a group of senior citizens, in their late 80s to 90s, and had them completed a six-week weight training program. At the end of the fitness program, the participants had increased their muscle strength by an average of 180 percent. As a result of this increased muscle strength, their walking speed also increased by an average of 48 percent.

Use it, or lose it

        After the six-week course was completed, the participants then resumed their sedentary lifestyles. At the end of only four weeks, a 32 percent loss of maximum strength was reported in the individuals.

        This process of muscles becoming smaller and weaker is known as atrophy.

        With decreased amounts of muscle mass, daily routines such as opening a jar or getting out of a chair can become difficult.

        Muscles also help to aid in strength and balance; therefore elderly people with low muscle mass are more prone to falls.

Cardiovascular exercise

        Cardiovascular exercise is also important for aging individuals. Walking, swimming and water aerobics are popular activities for senior citizens.

        Without aerobic exercise, bones become weak and thin — a condition called osteoporosis. This is why many elderly people sustain major bone breakage when they fall.

        Aerobic exercise also reduces high blood pressure, which is a major factor in heart disease and strokes.

               Having a fit mind is just as important as a fit body. Many elderly people suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia diseases that attack an individual's mental capacity. While there is no cure for these diseases, there are preventive steps that can decrease the onset of such mental diseases.

        As with muscle, when the brain is not stimulated it can begin to deteriorate. The brain works more efficiently when it is exercised. Engaging in activities or mind exercises help to stimulate your brain.

        Here are suggestions to keep your brain in shape and maximize mental capacity:

        • Learn a new language.

        • Do cross-words and word search games.

        • Play board games, such as Scrabble.

        • Read a minimum of 15 minutes a day.

        • Calculate without the use of a calculator.

        • How long will you live past retirement? Take the Longevity Test at

        • Administration on Aging:

        • Road to Reading:


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