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
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.
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.===