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Get Fit After 50

Author James P. Owen explains how Baby Boomers can slow the aging process and improve their physical function. Read Transcript

Well, we all get older.

But that doesn't mean we have to get old.

So says a former Wall Street rainmaker

who is now 76 and in the best shape of his life.

JOURNALIST: Best-selling author James Owen

decided to get fit and improve his chronic back pain

at age 70.

He eased into fitness one step at a time,

and gradually his back pain virtually disappeared.

Over time, he went from being a couch potato to getting

in the best shape of his life.

In his book, "Just Move," James shares

how older adults can get functionally fit, even if they

haven't exercised in years.

This is a book of hope.

Please welcome to "The 700 Club" James Owens.

It's wonderful to have you here.

Thank you.

Thank you, Terry.

I can call you Jim?

Jim, please.

OK, well, this all started for you when you turned 70.

What happened?

On my 70th birthday, I looked in the mirror.

And, Terry, I was like, that couldn't be me.

TERRY MEEUWSEN: Who is that guy, right?

Who was this guy?

My back was killing me.


My knees were shot.

My right rotator cuff was frozen.

Oh, my.

And I was 20 to 25 pounds overweight.

But the worst part, with hindsight, I had no energy.

Well, you probably were pretty sedentary, weren't you?

Sedentary, the only certification--

I'm not an MD.

I don't have a PhD in kinesiology.

I'm a former couch potato, certified.

Six years later, I'm in the best shape of my life.

I weigh less today than I did in high school.


So the message is if this guy can do it, anybody can do it.

It's never too late to get started.

Well, you know, you hadn't exercised in 30 years.

For a lot of people, that in itself

would have made them just kind of throw up their hands

and say, can't get there from here.

Where did you start?

One statistic, if you make it to the age of 70,

statistically you will live another,

at a minimum, 15 years.

Well, yay.

So I looked in the mirror.

And I said, what are those years going to be like?

If I'm feeling this bad now, it's a spiral downward.

And I said, OK.

What am I going to do?

So if you're an investment guy like me, you like research.

I said, I'm just going to read a lot of books

and talk to the experts and get with the program.

And the first year was pretty tough.

It was primarily physical therapy,

because I couldn't do one push up on the first day.

I went--


I can bang out 3 sets of 50.


I don't do it every day, but I do it once a week.

The point is that it's just gradual, continuous progress,

not overnight.

And there are no shortcuts.

So when you started, what were your goals?

Get rid of the pain.

The pain in your back.

So it was simple.

Get rid of the pain.

I didn't take medication for it.

I didn't get an epidural shot.

Maybe I should have.

But I said, I don't want to get hooked

on the medicine, even Aleve.

Well, it doesn't always make a difference long term.

Not really, I said, so what do I have to do?

And what I worked up to was a program

of walking and stretching.

So on day one, Terry, I could walk maybe 10 minutes,

and I was out of breath.

It was embarrassing.

The next day, maybe I walked 11 minutes.

And the next day, I said, oh, 5 minutes.

But over the course of a month, at the end of the month,

I said, OK.

I feel a lot better.

Then at three months, I felt a whole lot--

so the pay off is pretty quick and stretching

as you get older.

You're young.

Yes, it's so important.

It's critical.

Oh, no, I'm right on your heels, my friend.

So if you don't have aches and pains when you're 60,

wait until you're 70.

It's like having a car.

A car drives like a million dollars for about five years.

All of a sudden, the parts wear out.

Guess what.

When you turn 70, the parts wear out.

And so the message is just do something.

What does it mean to be functionally fit?

That means you can perform the daily activities

with no problem.

That's all it means.

So you have to banish the old Schwarzenegger power lifting.

That's more about Adonis.

It's vanity.

More about how you look than how you feel.

Yeah, it's vanity-driven.

When you're my age, it should be, quote, "health driven."

Yeah, have you always been disciplined?


You have.

See, that's really wonderful.

But it's the low energy that I think

discourages a lot of people from working out.

I don't have the energy.

It's so odd, isn't it?

What happens is when you work out, then you get more energy.

I was going to say that low energy keeps

you sitting on the couch.

But it's getting up and moving that gives you

what it is you're looking for.


So there's no quick fix.

There's no one solution for everybody.

You have to find out what works for you.

So what worked for me may not work for you.

What medical difference did all of this make for you, Jim?

My doctor was Mayo Clinic trained.

He was my age, actually two years younger, overweight,

hated exercise, loved to eat.

So I went in for my annual checkup

after my fourth year of working out.

He said, Jim, you're in the top 1% of your age group.

And he said this three or four times.

I said, Doc, how old do you think I am?

He said, well, you're 64.

I said, I'm 74.

He said, my goodness.

What time do we walk tomorrow?

So I tried to get him.

He said, Jim, I love to eat, and I hate working out.

And I said, sorry, Doc.

It doesn't-- you know.

But what you've done, Jim, as I looked at your book,

which is called-- by the way, I just want to plug that--

it's called "Just Move."

It's very doable.

I mean, what you did is you didn't join

some kind of a crazy exercise class where you couldn't move,

you were so sore.

Terry, more and more, the older you get,

you have to worry about not getting hurt.

So I don't want to knock any fitness program.

All I can tell you is for me, I work out one hour a day,

five, six days a week.

That's not lifting barbells to where I collapse.

It may be cardio.

It may be flexibility, maybe balance, maybe strength,

a lot of core work.

But it's a balance between these things.

You cannot just do one thing and say,

this is going to make me fit.

This is not the case.

Your book is amazing.

It's so well done.

I just can't tell you.

It's called "Just Move."

It's available wherever books are sold.

Boy, that title kind of says it all to all of us.

Get up and just move.

Jim said, why are we sitting down when we do this interview?

We're going to stand up right here.

He shares more of his story in a social exclusive interview

on our Facebook page.

If you'd like to watch that, go to

Just move.

Just move.

Thank you, great message.

Terry, thank you so much.

Wonderful job.

You are wonderful.

You can sit down while we go to commercial.

Why don't we sit down?

And by the way, on a personal--

I'm from Lexington, Kentucky.

My mom passed away at 101 and 1/2.

She never missed this show.

I'm adopted at birth, as my brother is.

Oh, how awesome.

And she was maybe 5 feet tall, maybe, feisty, little thing.

She made it count.

Would not drink milk her entire life.


Loved candy, so when she was 100 years old--

I like that woman.

--the doctor came by to see her.

She was 100.

He says, Levana, you shouldn't be eating all this chocolate.

I said, are you crazy?

She's 100.

I said, Mom, I'm not a doctor.

Enjoy your life, Levana.

Enjoy your life.

Exactly, well, you've got good goals

to set and look forward to for yourself, but great book.


Thanks, Terry.

"Just Move."

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