Age is just a number: Fighting the effects of aging

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Whether you know it or not, you are training for one of the most unforgiving obstacles of your life. 

Aging. 

And it takes more than good genes to keep your body in its best shape as you age. 

We found a couple men who truly defy the odds of what we think 70 or 90 should look like. 

Don't call them elderly!

Buddy Rake took offense to an EMT calling him that when he was rushed to the hospital before emergency surgery 11 years ago to remove non- cancerous tumors. 

That was his wake-up call. 

Losing almost 30 pounds while hospitalized for two weeks made him refocus his priorities. 

Since then, strength training has become second nature.

He's heavy lifting, at 71!

And he says anyone, at any age, can do it.

His personal best: leg pressing 1,020 pounds. 

That's maxing out 800 pounds on the Smith machine- with his ProFitness personal trainer, Matt O'Brien jumping on top!

"It's a weight I don't expect anyone to jump right to," O'Brien said. 

He's worked with professional and Olympic athletes. 

Training people like Rake is what makes him most proud.

"I'm trying to add years to his life," O'Brien said. 

We lose about seven percent of our muscle mass every decade after turning 30.

But you don't have to just sit back and let aging atrophy your guns.

[RELATED: Age is just a number: fighting dementia in your 30s & 40s]

We really only use about 50 percent of our muscle fibers typically training our core strength through endurance.

So even in your 30s, 40s, 50s, you can recruit those reserve muscle fibers, by just changing up your workout. 

Fewer reps, pushing maximum weight, builds something called "fast-twitch" muscle fibers (the ones usually sitting dormant) to fight the effects of aging. 

"Taking light weights and lifting them a lot of times really doesn't do you much good at all," Rake said. 

Army Air Corp Lieutenant Raul Mendoza flew the B-29 bomber in WWII.

Now at 92, he's still flying high with a pretty rigorous daily routine. 

He can do 400 sit ups in a half-hour!

"It takes more willpower than muscle power," Mendoza said. 

Sunup to sundown, he pretty much never stops

"I gotta keep moving," he said.

Still kicking and swinging, he goes out back in his 5-acre lot, weed-whacking with his 9-iron! 

"I'm doing this so I can keep my golfing muscles flexible, so I can get back into the game," Mendoza said. 

And walking. A lot of walking. 

"Don't overdo it but do it consistently," he said to encourage others to start making fitness a part of their daily routine. 

Mendoza still walks to his furniture shop which he opened in 1948. 

Only the post office, police and fire stations and his furniture shop are still open in small-town, Hayden, Ariz.

Not surprising, he's the last man standing. 

"Don't sit down if you can stand. And don't stand if you can walk. And don't walk if you can run." 

Rake is running the court. 

He's able to keep up with players a quarter of his age, at Thunderbird High School.

"I never liked coaches or assistant coaches screaming at kids about running up and down the court if they couldn't do it themselves," Rake said.

His day job is in another court. He's an attorney, averaging 50 hours a week. 

He puts in another two at the gym with his trainer and another 20 with the student-athletes at Thunderbird, as the winning-est, longest -serving high school basketball head coach in state history.

"I think the biggest challenge for everybody is to turn being in shape into play," Rake said. 

He says the key is, start slow, but start, and remember, you're always training. 

"Most people lay on the couch. So they spend a lot of time eating bad food. And uh having bad habits. And that's great training for the couch, but it's really poor training for getting older," Rake said.

"You can choose to live your life in your 70s, 80s, 90s, walking with friends- or getting pushed by strangers."

Rake and his trainer put- together a whole strength training method for seniors that walks you through how to get started.

Click here for that information.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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