If you have been to a RiseVT Show Up event, you have seen Jeanne Royer. She came to the first Show Up event and has not missed one since. If you do not know who Jeanne is, just look for the 91 year old woman running, doing squats and push-ups! She is an inspiration to anyone who has attended one of our events and to many people in the community.

Jeanne says that her life of activity started at a young age. Her mother passed away when she was 2-1/2, so she had to keep up with her father and life on the farm. While she lived on the farm, she never shied away from milking the cows, mowing or working with the horses. When she got married, her husband was equally active. They built their first house together. In fact, her husband harvested trees from the forest, planed them and together they built the house at 20 Diamond Street in St. Albans.

When her kids were young, she volunteered as a Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader, serving as a den mother. She also maintained a large garden and spent time and working in it. She still volunteers regularly. You can find her at NMC twice a week helping patients check in. She says, “I’ve never had a dull moment. I’ve never been bored. I have always been very active, keeping busy doing all kinds of things.”

Carmen Riggs, Jeanne’s daughter who was visiting from Kentucky and attended the last Show Up event with her, believes that part of her mother’s health is because, “She never stops moving. I am convinced that when you stop moving, then you stop doing a lot of things. She even eats breakfast standing up!” She adds, “She’s an inspiration to me. I hope that I grow up to be like her when I am 91.”

Jeanne has always done physical work, but it is only in the past couple of years that Jeanne has started formal exercise classes. She credits RiseVT for introducing group exercise to her. Jeanne spends much of the winter in Florida where regularly takes exercise classes, including aerobics, Zumba and yoga. She is part of a program called Silver Sneakers, where seniors can receive FREE gym memberships through Medicare.

Several years ago, Jeanne did have to have a stent placed in her artery after going to a doctor because she was feeling a little less energetic than usual. However, her daughter mentioned it as an afterthought. It clearly did not slow her down, nor does she seem to focus on it as a problem. In fact, in all of my interactions with Jeanne, I only hear positive words and see her smiling.

Here are my take away tips to “Be Like Jeanne” and live a healthy, long life:

  • Don’t sit. Once you start, you may stop doing other things that keep you active.
  • Volunteer. Giving back is often linked to a positive outlook in life, which is linked to good health.
  • Focus on the positive. It is somewhat of a stereotype that after a certain age, conversations focus on health problems. Don’t get caught up in it. What CAN you do? What are you capable of?
  • Don’t shy away from physical work. If you want a house, build it. If you want a tomato, grow it. Ok, maybe we don’t have to be that extreme, but physical work is one of the best forms of exercise.
  • Try new things! You are never too old to try something new.