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Burlington Free Press - April 8th

By Barbara Leitenberg,

 

Senior Thanks UVM Track For Long Life

Reginald Arnold, 94, of Montpelier attributes his good health

and longevity to the habits he learned as a student 75 years ago on

the University of Vermont track team. In a letter to interim UVM

President Edwin Colodny, Arnold asks UVM to reconsider its

September decision to eliminate men's track and field teams because

they "give young athletes something you don't read about in a

textbook and they add longevity to their older years."

Arnold's eloquent defense of exercise and the track team put a

human face on the old saws: "Wear out, don't rust out" and "Use it

or lose it."

A student at UVM from 1926-1930, Arnold ran cross-country and

one and two milers. He was captain of the team in his junior year.

"Track is an individual sport," he writes. You are master of

yourself. You learn discipline, leadership, endurance to the limit,

comradeship, how to budget your time - all these qualities learned

at no expense. Our track shoes were even loaned to us." Arnold

describes how he used these lessons through his retirement years.

At age 75, after 41 years as a civil engineer with the Vermont

Highway Department and a brief stint building highways in Vietnam,

Arnold moved to Sun City, Arizona, where he took up race-walking.

At 80, he had a mild heart-attack while warming up for a 3-mile

race walk. "I was pretty disappointed," he writes. "I asked the

doctor if he thought the attack was due to my exercise. His reply

was, 'If it wasn't for your race-walking, I am sure you would be

dead now."

Arnold developed Type 2 diabetes at 55 and had a knee

replacement at 87. "In all instances, I was able to recover and

continue to participate in the yearly Arizona Senior Olympics and

won gold medals in my class," he writes.

These days, back in Montpelier, he writes, "I continue to walk

fast (1 1/3 miles) each day at the mall, and I elevate my pulse to

102 - 108, the most my doctor permits. Of course, I take a minimum

of medication; but I honestly believe my doctor when he says that

my cardiovascular effort is the real secret to my longevity.

"I further know, without hesitation, that the applications I

learned as a track runner taught me how to care for my body to this

day. I ask you to give serious thought to reconsider the decision

to eliminate men's track and field."

At the end of his letter, he notes, "I speak from experience as

noted above. I am not a 'crackpot' type of individual nor a doting

old man. I am of sound mind!"

You can find the full text of Arnold's letter at

www.uvmtrack.com, a web site containing other letters from alumni

and information arguing for reinstatement of the track team.

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Barbara Leitenberg writes about senior issues biweekly. For more

information about services for elders, call the Champlain Valley

Agency on Aging at (800) 642-5119.===