Meet Professor Paul “PJ” Gammarano, Sr. He’s one of the 2022 Senior Planet Sponsored Athletes, and he’ll be sharing updates on his health & hockey journey through the rest of this year. Today, PJ is taking us through a fitness story that predates the internet. (Cue the dinosaur’s roar!) At age 68, PJ hopes to set a positive example for others of all ages and demographics. His simple message: “Do your best and your best gets better with fitness and wellness.”
Throughout the years of growing up in central Brooklyn, NY, sports were a big part of most young lives. My heroic, WWII-veteran dad (an excellent father who took time with his children), introduced me to sports. Baseball, softball, handball, racquetball, and basketball each had their share of hours. I gravitated toward hockey, a less injury-prone sport than football for winter. I also liked the real challenge of ice skating.
After representing my college undergraduate school as part of our league championship team (among other playing opportunities), I went 23 years and 10 months without even touching a hockey puck, while I raised two sons with less expensive sports. It was an “Old Timer’s Game” with college rivals back in 2007 that brought back my playing days — with more hockey now than even then!
Pick a sport, any sport
A big part of one’s own physical fitness routine is to have a back-up plan for days when your primary sport is not available. Just as skiers and snowboarders need a mountain slope, the ice hockey player needs an ice rink. (Luckily, now ice rinks can be found in most places, even Florida.)
My back-up activity is bicycling; my major objective is to ride during each month of the year. Only snow and ice might stop my local trips to enjoy the outdoors. (Helmets and bright colors are mandatory for personal safety!)
“People can play a rigorous sport well past what was once considered ‘quitting time.’ “
Whether you decide to take up the sports of hockey or bicycling or not, the key is to “pick a sport, any sport” to participate in, and to stay with it for as long as possible. Many sports are now considered lifetime activities — meaning that there is no preset retirement age that is forced on anyone. Recently, I was fortunate enough to speak (as a “youngster”) with The Real Iron Men of Hockey website which showcases ice hockey players age 80 and over. This group of older players is downright inspiring, and proof-positive that people can play a rigorous sport well past what was once considered “quitting time.” So, pick an activity for yourself if you haven’t already, and learn about the sport as you give it a try!
“Whether or not you compete, you can benefit by adopting some of these techniques into your own fitness routine.”
Mark your calendars! You are cordially invited on Wednesday, July 20 at 3:00pm EDT to observe and participate in some unique floor exercises. They are specifically designed to reduce risk of injury while in athletic competition and other workouts. Throughout my playing career, I have been able to minimize and even eliminate injuries with supportive warm-up and cool-down exercises. Whether or not you compete, you can benefit by adopting some of these techniques into your own fitness routine. More details to come!
Lastly, a special thanks to MsFAITH! for not only going first in her successful presentation of hula hooping for health, but for providing a strong template through her introductory blog, which helped me compose my own. I will be writing and sharing additional reference articles throughout the year, so stay tuned!
Read more about Paul’s journey in this recent profile in the Staten Island Advance.
In need of a little motivation to get moving? Join our daily health and wellness programs, stay tuned to the latest news and articles from SeniorPlanet.org by signing up for The Orbit weekly newsletter, and follow us on social media (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) to get to know these awe-inspiring athletes. You might just find a new love for fitness along the way!
I stick with getting exercise playing HOCKEY because I enjoy it soooo much. I do some stretching upper and lower body, back, thighs, knees etc etc while I fill the car with gas as well as the warm up before hockey games. This special routine is done slowly, not fast or extreme intended to warmup & stretch ligaments, knee, elbow, back, sides, shoulders, etc. to reduce possible shock injury. I am 86 years. I walk quickly everywhere I go. Smiles and attitude make me and others happy.
Wow! This is great. PJ is so inspiring and wise. Thanks!
PJ … nice! It never crossed my mind that hockey was a lifetime sport. I am from Detroit and you probably know that there was a big rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Canadiens, seeing that we were right across the river from Canada. Hahaha … I love it that you were the ‘youngster’ at age 68! I am looking forward to learn some your unique floor exercises on July 20.