The Road to Fitness: A Lifelong Passion

by Robert M. Oliva
(Floral Park, NY)

Dr. Robert M. Oliva at 65 Years of Age

Dr. Robert M. Oliva at 65 Years of Age

What motivated me to start exercising?

I was first introduced to fitness and weight training by my dad back in the late 1950s. He purchased a York Barbell set and started working out in our apartment in Brooklyn, NY. Once in a while he would have weight lifting competitions in the backyard with my uncles. He would win. I recently asked a friend what he remembered about my dad and he said: "Hugh arms." Yes, he had great arms. He was a fitness fanatic and read Bob Hoffman's Strength and Health, Joe Weider's Muscle Builder and Perry Radar's Iron Man religiously.

Although I had a very slight build in comparison to by dad, I made great efforts to be in shape. I joined the track team in high school and have remained interested in fitness and health my entire life. I have a doctorate in health and workout regularly in my home gym on Long Island, NY. In fact, I still have the original York Barbell plates my dad bought in the late 50s. In the 1980s we moved to the Flatlands section of Brooklyn. A few blocks away was a Dan Laurie outlet. I purchased a few 25 lb. plates. I still have them.

One of the things I'm most proud of is that my two sons have inherited the desire to be in shape and exercise regularly. It's great to know that they have taken seriously what the body needs to stay healthy and maintain fitness. My grandson is also physically active. He is a defensive tackle on the junior high football team and dedicated to learning Jujitsu. Now, if I can get my wife to start a fitness program, all will be well.

What workouts do I perform?

At 65 years of age, I mostly do interval or circuit training with weights. Three times a week I will do free weights or exercise bands, depending on my mood. I workout with intensity and concentration, legs one day, shoulders, arms the next and finally chest and back. Reps are in the range of 12 - 15. Thirty to 45 minutes is the maximum amount of time I use for each workout.

On alternate days, I do aerobic training for 30 minutes on the stationary bike, in addition to calisthenics, shadow boxing, etc. I keep the aerobics to 30 minutes because my body loses weight easily. I have to work at maintaining a certain level of muscle mass. I do some yoga in the morning and stair climbing when at work.

Injuries: I have lots of little injuries that I have to be careful not to reawaken. I choose exercises that don't exacerbate matters. It's very important, as someone 65 years of age, to stay away from injuries. It takes a long time to recover, if ever. But I'm not afraid to push it within my limits. I don't look for size and bulging biceps. Sustaining a state of health, proper heart function, blood pressure and fat percentages are the goals.

Diet: I eat as naturally as possible. My wife and I go to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings to purchase as much produce as we need for the week. We love fresh broccoli, cauliflower, beets, zucchini, carrots, kale, etc. Fish and lean meat are staples. I supplement with protein powder, BCAAs and Beta-Alanine. In addition, I take targeted supplements for the heart, digestion and immune function.

All in all, training for fitness has enabled me to remain energetic, upbeat and ready to accomplish the tasks at hand. As I grow older, I've taken to studying the likely medical and health conditions that face us as we advance in age. I've also found that a forward looking faith in God's abundance and healing power adds a striking dimension to life. We don't live forever but with knowledge, commitment and luck our lives can be robust and happy. Even when misfortune befalls us a positive attitude and a physically fit body can be of great help.

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Dec 11, 2013
Terrific article
by: Kathy

What a great way to instill positive thinking in people, especially seniors. Bob infused an easiness which permeated through every word. Just reading the article gave me a relaxed feeling. There was no pressure implied to incorporate exercise into our lives it, instead, eased the idea into our sub conscious. It also imparted terrific suggestions for leading a more productive and healthier lifestyle.
Looking forward to future articles.

Dec 10, 2013
by: Martine

This is a great article. My family and I were always active and ate fairly well. The past several years I became out of shape ms gained 50lbs. I decided to make a change, but I needed help. Your son, Chris, helped me on my journey. I learned that with a balanced exercise regimen(1 hour) and eating a balanced diet would help me to get to my goal weight, but most importantly I would be healthy. I also learned that I do not have to restrict myself from one of the basic food groups in order to achieve that goal. As you said your father implemented fitness into your life; you have done the same with your sons. Your knowledge has passed down to them, and that has helped me. I want to thank you. Thank you for sharing," because now my mother is not scared to workout in fear of getting hurt. I know many others will be inspired to do the same just by reading this article.

Dec 02, 2013
Great Article!
by: David

I enjoyed reading this article, Dr. Oliva. I hope more doctors of today can be real leaders and practice what they preach. Medicine can be a cure for diseases and illnesses. But medicine does not necessarily lead you to a healthy life. As you said in your article, staying positive, exercise not too much and not too little and balance your diet. I hope you keep up with your success!

Nov 26, 2013
Inspired Reader
by: Tim McCarthy

Dr. Oliva I just finished reading your post and wanted to tell you how much you have inspired me. I am soon to be 62 and of late have become very motivated to find and "follow" older adults like yourself with the mind-set behind your own motivation for staying physically fit. I believe that now is a great age for making now a great age. It is definitely a choice everyone must make for themselves. But it really helps to make that choice when there are great examples of people, like yourself, walking the talk and proving it works and it's worth putting the time and energy into it. Thank you sir and God bless you.

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