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Fit after 75

‘Running Man’ Bernie Papa proves age is just a number

Created date

February 26th, 2013

I ve run lots of races. This was a marathon, 76-year-old Bernie Papa corrects me when I ask him about his latest endeavor. He s referring to the Scranton Marathon the Cedar Crest resident s fifth since 2004 and twelfth overall. Full of energy and spark, Bernie talks fast and furiously about training, life, and his causes.

More than running

A marathoner since his 40s, Bernie leads a very active life. I take my grandson to school every day at 7:30 and pick him up at 3, and in between I work out, he says. His workouts at Spa 2 Health and Racquet Club, in Pompton Plains, N.J., include running, kickboxing, swimming, cycling, and other high-energy group fitness classes. I m more of a high-active type of person, he says. His home atCedar Crest, the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, helps him stay that way. I like the environment here. It gives me the ability to get out a lot. By get out he means run. I don t avail myself of all the amenities here like the gym and swimming pool, although I could. I have to be outside. I make use of the big hill at our entrance to train. He also runs around campus and Pequannock Township. When training for a marathon, Bernie runs 40 miles a week. I run my races like I train, he says, adding that though he s gotten a little slower over the years, he feels great and can still manage a workout the day after his 26.2 miles. When he s not running, he s walking quickly. I walk at a fast pace. A lot of people know me around here because of that and the marathons, he says. I m not good with names and faces, but they ll say, Good luck, Bernie!

Eating right

Bernie doesn t just rely on exercise to support his healthy lifestyle. He says maintaining a nutritious diet helps, and he s able to maintain that at Cedar Crest. I m a chicken and fish type of guy, he says, though he admits to having a weak spot for ice cream. Let s face it, when you re training like I am, you re going to burn it anyway, he rebuts. Bernie typically eats cereal or a bagel post-workout each morning. Then he eats again at 5 p.m. in one of Cedar Crest s five restaurants. We rarely go out to eat at restaurants only when the grandkids visit. I figure, I m paying for [a meal a day], and they have everything I need here. Every resident pays a monthly service fee, which includes a meal plan either one meal a day for each day of the month, or 20 meals a month. Both plans are flexible, allowing residents to treat guests and save meals for another day. Bernie s other key to a healthy, active lifestyle? His yearly physical with Dr. Roland Lascari, the Cedar Crest medical center s full-time, in-house physician. Bernie hasn t committed to another marathon yet, but he continues to commit his life to staying healthy and active.