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Students are getting a healthy start to the semester — and a real-life lesson in healthy aging — thanks to their instructor, Associate Professor John Walsh.

During the past year and a half of online classes, Walsh led a core-strengthening exercise routine for his students from afar to help break up long class periods spent in front of a computer screen. This semester, he’s brought the routine back to campus and leads exercises on the lawn in front of the Andrus Gerontology Center for his students in Gerontology 310: the Physiology of Aging.

Walsh, who is 65 and a “diehard surfer,” said surfing plus his daily exercise routine has kept him limber and active and helped him recover from a serious back injury and subsequent surgery three decades ago. Appropriately, a sizeable portion of the Gero 310 course discusses how a healthy diet and exercise affect aging, he added.

“At least a quarter of the class is devoted to a healthy diet and exercise versus over-nutrition and obesity with respect to risk versus prevention of diseases like cancer and diabetes,” Walsh said. “Doing stretch and core allows them to practice what they will preach – same for me.”

In addition, exercise is a great form of meditation and stress relief during a busy semester and an ongoing pandemic, and it also helps bring the class together socially, he said.

Walsh is a “ball of energy” and an embodiment of how important and beneficial it is to stay active throughout life, said Lois Angelo, junior in human development and aging and student in Walsh’s Gerontology 310 class.

“Dr. Walsh’s stretch and core routine had always been a really fun routine that got me moving while isolating at home,” Angelo said. “Experiencing it for the first time in person was a really gratifying experience since I felt more connected with everyone doing the routine seeing them there with me rather than via Zoom.”

Photo: Walsh leads his Gerontology 310 students in exercises on the lawn in front of the Andrus Gerontology Center during a break from his lecture on August 25, 2021.

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