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Published:January 30th, 2013 16:35 EST

"gOLD" Nuggets: Geneva Carter -- On Health & Wellness

By Harry J. Getzov

Geneva Carter (87) -- Richardson, Texas

"What in the world is passive exercise?"

geneva_carter_1 "Okay. So how many 87-year-olds do you know who can do this?" Geneva smiled as she leaned forward at the waist, placing her hands flat on the floor in front of her. "And that`s what yoga does for you. Well, that`s what it does for me," she explained, as she straightened up. "I`ve been doing it and all that it involves for 35 years," she added as she then shared her story about how an unexpected and possibly devastating health event guided her into a new lifestyle. Her health and well-being improved from that day forward. "There`s not much magic to it," she explained.
"You just have to, you know -- how do they say it? Just do it.`"

The heart attack changed everything for me back in 1972, when I still lived in Houston. Because, up until that point, I thought I was the healthiest person in the world. I had no idea I had a problem. I had always gone to the gym every day and worked out, so I was pretty fit. But there I was, painting the deck on the swimming pool, and down I went. I fell, just like that. I lost almost a third of my heart muscle, so I was pretty incapacitated for a while. But then, you know, it`s time to come back. So I slowly started walking and doing things like that. And that`s when the doctor suggested the yoga, and I thought, "Gee, that sounds great. I don`t have to go to a studio, I can do it at home." So I started practicing yoga three times a week in the fall of `72, and ever since then, my heart`s been great. I haven`t had any more attacks and the doctors keep telling me I probably never will.

What do you enjoy so much about yoga?

The stretching, the way it firms the muscles and keeps the body toned. I like the mental part of it, too, where I relieve myself of all stress and all the cares in the world, and just float. It`s great. You mentioned before about the yoga you practice -- Bikram. I`m going to try that; I`d enjoy trying something new if I can find a studio near here.

But, as I said before, I started after I had a heart attack when I was 53. And back then, they didn`t let you do a lot of work, physical work, after you had an attack. It`s much different nowadays. Today, of course, they want you to do all kinds of exercise after something like that. Anyway, since I had to stop playing golf, stop playing tennis, I still had to do something. So my doctor said, "You can do passive exercise." And I asked him, "What in the world is passive exercise?" He said, "Try yoga. It`ll keep you young and limber. It`ll keep you trim. You`ll keep your figure," he added. And I have, I really have. I wear a size eight. I weigh 122. I eat really well -- mostly vegetarian -- and, generally, I take good care of my body.

It`s funny how people here are amazed that I`m still limber. I can bend over, to the side, backwards (stands and demonstrates); I can do anything. When you see someone who practices yoga, you can see it in their bodies, right? There`s something about the way they move -- they sit up straight, have great posture. It`s just all-round good for you. I hope you continue your yoga practice, Harry. You`ll live long and stay youthful. You`ll be limber and you can bend and twist and do all the things you want to do. It`s so wonderful for the spine. Keep at it -- you won`t regret it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Harry J. Getzov is the founder of Eldercation -- an organization committed to changing the way our culture views aging and older people. He is also the author of the award-winning book, "gOLD: The Extraordinary Side of Aging Revealed Through Inspiring Conversations." (Available on  €Â"Follow Eldercation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and check out Harry`s blog,€ "Taking The Scenic Route," and his newest project, "My Long Story Short."

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