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On the move: Farmington senior honored with Silver Sneakers award

UCare spokeswoman Lisa Austen presents Terry Werner with a Silver Sneakers Swanson award Friday at Anytime Fitness in Farmington. Werner was proud to receive the award at a special party with fellow senior members, family and staff who teach at the fitness center. Kara Hildreth / contributor

Terry Werner is proud to walk in silver sneakers in his golden years.

Werner, 82, is known to bust a move in his exercise class and he even admits to putting on his dancing shoes on weekends.

Werner believes he can live past 100 years with daily exercise and a commitment to being active. Werner likes to workout alongside his Silver Sneakers buddies at Anytime Fitness in Farmington.

"My goal is to keep myself in good shape and live to be 105 years old," Werner said.

The Silver Sneakers fitness program for older adults was founded by Mary Swanson in 1992 in Tempe, Ariz. Swanson's father suffered a heart attack at 51 and she developed this program to ensure her father would lead a healthy, long life.

The Swanson award honors Silver Sneakers members who have improved their lives through fitness while inspiring and motivating others to improve their health and well-being.

Last week Werner received the 2017 Swanson Silver Sneakers award at a big bash at Anytime Fitness. He shared the celebration with family, staff and fellow Silver Sneakers exercise buddies, who all cheered loudly for him as a great person who serves as an inspiration on how to stay active in the golden years.

"Terry is so kind-hearted and was always doting on his wife and he is the sweetheart of the bunch," said Sheri Speckan, a Silver Sneakers instructor and general manager at Anytime Fitness in Farmington. "In addition to being kind, he is very fun loving and it is not unusual for me to look back and see Terry just busting a groove when the spirit moves him — he cannot help himself and he never fails to put a smile on my face."

A year ago in May, Werner's wife, Janet, died a year ago in May. They were married 58 years. Life has been quiet and empty without his sweetheart, but he keeps busy and active and decides to put on his sneakers every day.

Besides exercising, Werner keeps socially active to maintain overall happiness and well-being.

"I try to go to dances at the American Legion Club in the Grumpy Old Men's Club that meets on Thursdays for coffee and donuts in Apple Valley," he said.

Werner looks forward to putting on his dancing shoes once a week when he attends dances in the area.

"It keeps you going and you get to meet nice ladies and go dancing," he said.

When asked to give other seniors advice for healthy living and striving for longevity, Werner said there are no secrets to the fountain of youth, but just making a personal decision to move and be active daily.

"There is no such thing as a secret but if I can do it, anybody can do it," Werner said, smiling big and bright. "Group exercises with other people there with you helps and having an appointment helps because you know they are going to be there, and we all have fun exercising together and it is a natural thing to do."

Proud of his Silver Sneakers award, Werner parks it outside his front door of his senior apartment to his fellow Farmington neighbors can look at it.

Active in the Silver Sneakers program in Farmington for five years, Werner has been a member in the program since 2008 when he lived in Florida. He moved to Minnesota when his job brought him to the state to sell windows and doors to contractors.

"Silver Sneakers is a wonderful program where I do a lot of exercise three times a week down there and I do about three miles of walking on the other days," Werner said.

Each Thursday he takes his son's dog Phoebe for a brisk walk and playtime.

"We go to the dog park in Eureka Township each Thursday where there are three acres, and I like to run around with that dog," Werner said.

Taking Silver Sneakers classes is fun and gives this senior gentleman a chance to socialize with others who are fun and who care about maintaining their health.

"We do a little body movement and weights, but the big thing is to do it with a group and do it together and hang out because it is easier to do exercise with a group," Werner said. "I am staying out of the doctor's office by exercising and this program does a fantastic job of keeping you well."