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Pushing peak health

Seventy-year-old Patrick Maxwell showing that when it comes to following a healthy lifestyle, age means little.

by Neville Clarke

To viewers of skits carried on local television, Patrick Giggurd Maxwell, is seen as a hilarious character depicting many aspects of Barbadian life.

However, when it comes to pursuing a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, the more serious side of his personality comes to the forefront.

At the age of 70, the retired information officer is one of the oldest members of the Little League Gym on Barracks Road, Bank Hall, St. Michael.

During an interview with Loving Me earlier this week, Patrick said his interest in regular exercise began when he was a member of Combermere School Cadet Corps and the Barbados Regiment under Colonel Leonard Banfield.

His interest in physical exercise was further heightened when he joined the Royal Signals, the communications arm of the British Army in 1962.

“Every year you had to undergo a fitness test which involved running with full battle dress, and carrying a comrade on your shoulder, utilising the fireman’s grip,” he said.

The retiree recalled that in 1962, when officials of the British Army visited Barbados and recruited 450 young people for that military organisation, he was working in the Department of Inland Revenue.

“I was the first person to sign up, but three of my fellow workers, namely, Kingsley Johnson, Kelvin Adamson and Stanley Springer joined up. My older brother, Ferdinand Maxwell, later joined the Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry Division of the British Army,” he remembered.

Having spent six years in the British Army after training, he was posted in Germany for two and half years before being sent too Borneo for a year of active service in what was called the Indonesian Confrontation.

Patrick stressed that even though he was employed in the communications centre, he had to be physically fit in case he had to be engaged in active combat.

He said before joining the British Army he exercised at a backyard gym in Mount Friendship, St. Michael, where he resided and on his return to Barbados in 1975, he joined the Zenith Athletic Club on Harts Gap, Christ Church.

“I always had an interest in keeping my body fit even when I travel. If I am staying at a hotel I always look for somewhere to work-out,” said Patrick who shared that he exercises at least 90 minutes when he visits the Little League Gym.

“I go for a walk at least two to three times a week if I am not going to the gym. I try to get to the gym at least three times a week. Exercise is more important as you get older. You should be involved in exercise as long as you can.”

He lauded the level of camaraderie being displayed at the Little League Gym as it relates to age differences.

“Exercise is always good for releasing stress. After a work-out session it is almost like a “high” from an illicit drug without the negative side effects. It is not every day that you feel like going to the gym, but once you persevere you feel good on return,” Patrick said.

The former government information officer pointed out that working in the media was not a stress-free environment so he saw the need for exercise and acknowledged that exercise assisted him in dealing with many stressful situations.

He maintained that exercise is an activity in which anyone should be engaged for as long as they can. He further stressed that it was even more important as one advanced in age. He warned however, that as one gets older, one should scale down the level of intensity of exercise.

Patrick cautioned that one cannot turn back the clock, but can slow it down.

“Exercise releases endorphins and improves the circulation of blood to the brain. It wards off chronic diseases especially age related diseases,” he noted and suggested that seniors should continue their exercise programme, because without it the body goes into a more rapid decline.

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