Men over 55 reap the rewards of staying fitRetired U.S. Air Force medical officer Dan Kulund, 73, and Grand Forks boxing trainer Edward Obregon, 57, refuse to let age interfere with their athleticism.
By: Will Powell, Grand Forks Herald
Retired U.S. Air Force medical officer Dan Kulund, 73, and Grand Forks boxing trainer Edward Obregon, 57, refuse to let age interfere with their athleticism.
Kulund claims that if he were challenged on the spot, he could perform 73 pushups — one for each year he’s lived. Obregon says most of his training sessions with the young fighters in his Grand Forks Fighters Gym turn into hard workouts.
“Training with the young people gets you in shape in mind and body,” Obregon says.
“For men over 55, exercise keeps you limber,” Kulund says. When Kulund retired from the Air Force at age 70 after an 18-year career, he was the oldest active-duty service member in the U.S. military. When Kulund served at Grand Forks Air Force Base from 2008 to 2009, he was 68.
Kulund’s Vietnam-era military service, superior physical shape and experience as an orthopedic surgeon not only qualified him to re-enter the military at the age of 52, he also received periodic waivers which allowed him to stay on active-duty past the Air Force’s mandatory retirement age of 62. Kulund and his wife, who currently live in Alexandria, Va., originally planned to retire in Grand Forks in 2009.
“I really liked going out to Turtle River State Park. We’d go out there until the end of October, when it got cold,” Kulund says.
He and his wife continued their outdoor exercising into the harsh winter. Kulund’s outdoor workout primarily consists of “robust walking,” an age-friendly exercise Kulund strongly advocates.
Kulund describes a robust walk as a normal, paced walk in which an individual weaves in exercises, usually in groups of five.
“That gives you twenty different moves you can do, and you can mix them up,” Kulund says. For example, while walking in a park, Kulund may perform pushups off of the base of a tree and squats off of a park bench.
“From what I’ve seen, if people [over 55] know what to do when they go for a walk, it serves them very well … I would hope that every person who gets an AARP or Medicare card would also have the knowledge to weave in exercise with their walking.”
Something for everyone
While Kulund admits that he’s very fit for his age because of years of extensive training habits, he thinks individuals younger and older than he can do things to improve and maintain their physical condition.
“There’s exercise and sports for anyone of any age and any body type,” Kulund says.
Obregon sticks to boxing to stay active, a sport he’s either trained in, competed in or taught since the age of 13.
“It’s easy to go home, read the paper, and sit in the chair,” Obregon says. In addition to being a Marine Corp boxer in 1975 and winning a regional amateur boxing award in 1977, Obregon has coached boxers and officiated over boxing matches for almost 40 years. For 22 years, Obregon has been the owner of 5700 Gateway Drive’s Grand Forks Fighters Gym. He still travels often with his amateurs, but more important, he still trains alongside them.
“I’m at my gym with the youth and amateurs three times a week and Planet Fitness two or three times a week,” he says. According to Obregon, he can still run 1.5 miles and perform 30 pushups “pretty easily.” He is motivated to stay in shape because he recognizes that he must lead his young boxers by example.
“If I’m willing to put in the time, I expect them to put in the time,” Obregon says.
Promoting healthy living
Kulund and Obregon understand the roles that physical fitness and a healthy diet play in warding off the rigors of age. In his retirement, Kulund serves on the Commission on Aging for the City of Alexandria as a health representative, a position that allows Kulund to promote healthy, active living among Alexandria’s elderly residents.
“Exercise prevents diabetes, heart trouble, and arthritis,” Kulund says. “You don’t want to become frail, and you don’t become frail because you get older. Physical decline is more due to dis-use. The antidote is to use the limbs you’ve been given.”
Kulund also thinks that if fitness among the young and elderly alike was better on a national scale, healthier lifestyles would lead to a decrease in health care costs.
“I think I have a lot less aches and pains,” Obregon says in regard to the practical benefits of his athleticism. “I’m able to do more yard work and I can keep up with my grandkids.”
Kulund plans to stay active in Alexandria as a health expert and Obregon will run the Grand Forks Fighters Gym for as long as his body allows it.
“People want to live independently for as long as they can and exercise is important for that,” Kulund says.
Copyright 2013, Grand Forks Herald.