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Retired couple prove age is no barrier to an active lifestyle

A Lewes couple in their 70s have spoken out about how regular exercise benefits their physical and mental wellbeing – in different ways.

As members of Wave Active, Peter and Janet Kennedy attend weekly Pilates sessions together at Lewes Leisure Centre but from then on, their exercise regimes take distinct paths.

Former marathon runner Peter, 72, runs up to three times a week and complements this with strength and conditioning work in the gym, allowing him to continue running competitively at 800m and 1500m distances.

“When I was working, I found tremendous benefits to being a runner – I had more energy at work, was better at multi-tasking and a lot less stressed,” he said. “I used to run six days a week and thought it was all about putting the miles in but after getting injuries in my 60s it became obvious to me that I need to do strengthening and conditioning work too.”

Peter, a retired IT Project Manager, is Chairman of the British Masters Athletic Federation, which has over 5,000 athletes, and he has good advice for any people who want to get more active.

Start small

He suggests: “For those who aren’t used to exercise, start small, for example walking is great and Nordic walking is one of the best things you can do as all four limbs are used. It is also about exercising your heart and you want to significantly raise your heart rate to get into shape.”

Meanwhile, Janet has a neurological condition called dystonia which predominantly affects her head and neck.

“My eyes can close involuntarily so I don’t feel safe jogging outdoors,” she said. “I enjoy going to classes at Lewes Leisure Centre which, as a retired person, gives my day structure and you get to know other people who go regularly too.”

As well as Pilates, Janet – now retired, having worked on research into traffic safety – attends up to four other Wave Active classes a week including Functional Fitness and Zumba Tone.

With exercise such a key part of the Kennedy’s wellbeing, it is no surprise their daughter Sarah Webster holds the British and European female record for running 100km in just over seven hours.

Duncan Kerr, CEO of Wave Active, which operates leisure centres across Lewes district, said: “It is fantastic that we have members from children right through to men and women in their 80s and older who understand the massive health benefits – physically, mentally and socially – of keeping active.

“The Kennedys are a great example of how our facilities and classes can meet everyone’s needs including people with health conditions.”

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