Roman Day takes the crown in exercise contest

Resident Roman Day

Roman Day

You’ve heard that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Roman Day is living proof of that.

At the age of 95, Day outlasted everyone else in Beverly Stephens’ exercise class to earn the title King of Cardio. He high-stepped for more than 4 minutes, and could have kept going.

“I wasn’t really surprised,” Day said of his win. “The crown fit me real good.” He laughs, but he’s not really joking. Day says fitness has always been important to him, especially walking.

When Stephens came to Farmington Presbyterian Manor last spring as wellness coordinator through RehabCare, she wanted to offer exercise programs that included every element of fitness: flexibility, balance, strength and cardiovascular. She tries to relate what they’re doing to everyday situations, such as having good stability in the shower or lifting a gallon of milk comfortably.

“My goal for them is that their exercise program maintains or improves their quality of life, because that’s paramount,” Stephens said.

But any workout routine can become, well, routine. So Stephens introduces new elements at a pace her students are comfortable with. She began with flexibility, then some strength training, and finally added the cardio portion. Stephens said she thought if she made it into a game, it wouldn’t be as intimidating. And the King or Queen of Cardio contest was born.

Participants could hold a chair or sit during exercises like high-stepping or seated ladder climbing. They started at 30-second intervals, then worked their way up to a minute. “At first they were a little reluctant,” Stephens said. “But there was a level of trust. With everything we do, I tell them, if you need to sit down don’t hesitate.”

The 14 participants exercised for a month before the contest. Stephens said she had no idea Day was 95, and the oldest in the class, until after he’d won. Why has he always stayed so active? Day’s answer is simple: “It makes you live longer.”