COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - How true it is that it's never too late to start an exercise program.
One South Carolina woman was well into retirement age when the death of her husband forced her to find a reason to get up every morning. Now in her upper 80's, she's making quite the splash in the world of swimming.
As the smell of chlorine permeates the air and a couple ripples move across the pool, Barbara Eisele is right at home. Getting serious about exercising in the water happened 11 years ago when her husband passed away.
"It gave me focus. Gave me a reason to get up and get out and do,” said Barbara.
She’s about to turn 89. Now living in Greenwood, Barbara met us at MUV Fitness on Columbia's Forest Drive. She is an example of someone determined to pick up an exercise program - and even compete in it - at an older age.
"It makes all the difference in the world. And I didn't start competing really until I was 68. So it's never too late to start,” Barbara said.
Barbara has set records and garnered numerous awards - dominating the individual medley or the IM - the strokes of butterfly, back, breast and freestyle. She's even set world records in the Masters division. She and fellow senior swimmers on her team travel all over competing and winning.
"And so I meet them whenever we go to meets. And there are a couple older people like I and we have the state relay records," Barbara humbly boasted.
Dr. Kelli Savia of Lexington Family Practice White Knoll applauds Barbara.
"What she's doing now with consistent exercise is decreasing her risk for cardiovascular disease, neurological disorders, dementia, decreasing her fall risk because she's building up her muscles. The more consistent you are with exercise the better,” stated Dr. Savia.
The doctor recommends seniors not do more than their bodies can take. But anything they can do can be lifesaving.
Though a swimmer at heart, Barbara does several different workouts.
"I take tai chi, and yoga, and strength, and weight lifting,” said Barbara.
Dr. Savia is especially a fan of seniors adding stretching to their routines.
"We use our bodies so much throughout the day and all of our muscles compensate and it is really important that we stretch them so that they will work for us tomorrow," said Dr. Savia.
Because of what Barbara is doing today, she'll have plenty of tomorrows.
"The whole secret is outliving your competition," she said with a laugh.
This competitor has a goal to swim full speed ahead till she’s 100 years old.