Professor ‘Busts’ Myths on Aging

Approximately 25 students and faculty came
to listen to a presentation about the myths associated
with aging and how to slow down the process
in the Spartan Bookstore on Wednesday.

Greg Payne, a human performance professor
at San Jose State University, is the third speaker
in the University Scholars Series sponsored by
the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Joint Library and
the bookstore.

The presentation, titled “Bustin’ the Myths
About Aging and Physical Activity,” examined
common misperceptions Americans have about
aging.

“Most people think of the elderly as sitting
on a chair and staring blankly out of a window,”
Payne said. “That’s becoming less true. Today’s
50-year-olds are more like the 40-year-olds of
the past.”

Payne said Americans today are living longer
than they did 50 years ago.

In 1960, about 3,000 Americans were 100 or
older, he said.

Payne said that number would increase to
approximately 2.7 to 5 million people in 2050,
based on his calculations.

Midway through the presentation, Payne offered
the audience a pop quiz about stereotypes
associated with aging.

“I think it’s genetic for me as an instructor to
give a test,” he said jokingly.

One common assumption Americans have is
that the elderly are mentally slower than younger
people, Payne said.

He added that studies have shown that people
who have been physically active all their lives
show a slower rate of mental decrease than sedentary people.

“If you look at the numbers, the
speed of response among older people
who are physically active is actually
higher than in inactive young people,”
Payne said.

Payne said physical activity, especially
sustained activity of moderate
intensity as opposed to extremely intense
bursts, was a big factor in slowing
down the rate of physical and mental
decline among the elderly.

“You don’t have to run a marathon
all the time,” Payne said. “Just go for a
walk around the neighborhood or hit
some tennis balls.”

Some members of the audience
said they felt the presentation was a
wake-up call for them to become more
physically active.

“I think I (will try) to make it more
of a point to include some activity in
my life,” said Court Warren, director
of the bookstore.

Warren added that he could relate
to a lot of issues in the lecture.

“I identify with a lot of things he
was referring to,” Warren said. “Just
hearing someone with his credentials
talking about it really made the point
hit home.”

Other audience members said the
presentation was an important reminder
to maintain healthy habits
throughout life.

“It really reminds me just to stay
active,” said Barbara Conry, a human
performance professor.

Conry said she takes long-distance
walks around her neighborhood when
she has the time.

It’s critical to establish healthy habits,
especially at an early age, she said.

“I think getting young people to
love and enjoy physical activity goes a
long way,” Conry said.

Some audience members said they
found the presentation to be an eyeopening
experience.

Chris Rose, a staff member at the
bookstore, said he was shocked to hear
how many people in America were 100
or older.

“When he showed how many people
would be 100, I thought, ‘That
number’s huge,’ ” Rose said.

Rose added that he would defi nitely
find more ways to incorporate physical
activity into his daily regimen.

“I think I could try walking to more
places,” he said.