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OUTDOORS OR INDOORS, THE KEY IS TO HAVE FUN AGAIN

Just for a moment think back to when you were 10 years old.

Even though school days returned in the autumn there were a few aspects to the season that made it worthwhile. Back then, fall conjured up visions of running and jumping into a pile of crunchy brown leaves, climbing apple trees, or riding your bike until your mother called you in for dinner.

That first snowfall was met with great anticipation and excitement. Sledding, snowball fights, ice skating, fort building and skiing were just a few of the activities endearing you to that brisk season of icy cold. You weren't really thinking about it back then, but you were exercising and keeping active. You felt good, you looked good, and you were having fun.

The bad news is, you're not 10 anymore. The good news is, you can still enjoy many of the same activities you enjoyed as a kid. Is it possible you've lost touch with that 10-year-old who's yearning to get out?

Now that you're not quite as young as you used to be, fall has taken on an entirely new meaning, conjuring up visions of raking leaves, bagging and hauling them out to the curb. And winter is met with even less enthusiasm. Shoveling, snow blowing and shivering against the elements pretty much sums up what most of the over-50 crowd has to look forward to in the months ahead. Many of you have lost that youthful enthusiasm that made chilly days not only bearable but longed for.

Thankfully a new generation of over-50 adults has arrived, inspiring even the most dedicated couch potatoes to get up and get moving.

Judith Tannenhaus, 53, is a single mother of three adult children, as well as a grandmother. Taking time out to have fun in a healthy, gratifying way is important to her.

"As far as I'm concerned winter is too short," Tannenhaus says. "I love to ski and can't wait for January. I'm on the slopes from Friday evening to Sunday evening every weekend until March. I only come in when it's time to eat or sleep. That makes me happy. I admit, by the end of March, I'm pooped. That's when we vacation." (In the Rockies, of course).

For many people, the word retirement means slowing down.

This is not the case for James Gold, who recently retired from Buffalo State College. "My favorite exercise to do all year long is walk Delaware Park as briskly as I can. I used to jog it, occasionally even put on a burst of speed. Now at 58, I am most content to get up a good heartbeat, usually a sweat. If I happen to feel particularly under stress, I will circle it twice. I always end up feeling real glad I did it."

Arthur and Olga Rosche, both 80 years old, have the same enthusiasm for putting one foot in front of the other.

"We've been hiking all our lives," says Mr. Rosche. "We started out in the '30s when we joined the Buffalo Hiking Club. We stayed with them until 1962 when we founded our own hiking group, the Foothills Trail Club. We have a trail that goes from the Pennsylvania border to the Rainbow Bridge, it's about 175 miles. I'd say we have about 300 members."

This is a group that is serious about hiking. According to Rosche, there is work to be done.

"We have work parties that maintain the trail and keep it in good and passable condition. We hike all year round as long as the weather doesn't get too out of hand. We'll cross country ski or snowshoe. We try to get out every Saturday and Sunday, and we offer more reasonable hikes for seniors, about five miles."

Resorts are beginning to cater to 50-plus adults who are choosing more rigorous forms of vacation options.

Becky Faulkner is the recreation director at Peek'n Peak Resort and Conference Center in Clymer, Chautauqua County, and speaks from experience.

"I'm 54, and speaking on behalf of baby boomers everywhere, we don't intend on sitting around waiting to get old. I've spent the summer putting many, many miles on my brand new mountain bike. Here at Peek'n Peak we have a great deal to offer the over-50 crowd. We have an indoor pool, golfing in the fall, skiing in the winter, with special rates for seniors over 65."

Life no longer begins at 40. The envelope has been pushed, allowing every age group new options and the chance to enjoy life at a pace they feel comfortable with in an atmosphere that's encouraging and supportive.

According to Director of Recreation for Asbury Pointe Retirement Community Mary Deyle, there is never an age that keeping active isn't necessary.

"Daily activity is pertinent for any age group. The intensity is the variable. I encourage our residents to exercise at least three times a week to be of benefit," explains Deyle.

"It can be a simple stroll or a chair aerobics class in our fitness room. I tell our residents you don't need to spend time in the fitness room to get the exercise you need. Simple changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can help. Walking is an aerobic activity that is feasible for almost everyone. The brisker, however, the better. Walking may also lead to other healthy activities. Many of our residents recently enrolled in slimnastics and country line-dancing classes at the nearby senior center in Amherst."

Arthur Lowe, 84, a resident of Asbury Pointe, is a shining example of what an active life, even during the fall and winter, can do.

"If I'm lucky I try to play golf through November. I always feel the more active I am the better I feel. We still have a place in Ellicottville, and we go up there regularly. I not only mow my lawn, but my daughter has me mowing hers."

It's true you may not be 10 anymore, but the importance of keeping the spirit of that 10-year-old alive can mean a healthful, fulfilling second half to life.

Sadie and Bessie Delany, authors of the best-selling memoir "Having Our Say," both lived to be over 100. They enjoyed every day of their lives.

Sadie had this to offer concerning exercise and staying active: "You've got to exercise, not just for your heart and lungs, but to keep from stiffening up. It keeps you limber, and that's important when you get older. You can get exercise from doing housework, gardening, all kinds of things - anything's better than sitting on your behind all day long."

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