Keep fit and stay young: professor and marathon man (82) leads by example


AS THE rain soaked the grounds of the University of Limerick yesterday, an 82-year-old professor was running his 43rd marathon.

Walter Bortz MD, a clinical associate professor of medicine at Stanford University school of medicine, California, was visiting UL to promote the benefits of exercise as we age.

As he picked up the pace at the half-way mark, he joked: “I’m looking for my wife to give me CPR.

“A little mouth-to-mouth action should do the trick.”

Regarded as one of the US’s most recognised scientific experts on ageing and longevity, the sprightly pensioner was convinced to run a marathon around the grounds of UL while visiting his friend, the Irish-American philanthropist Chuck Feeney.

Mr Feeney has donated millions of euro to the university over the years, and was visiting Limerick on a whistle-stop tour.

“When Chuck says to me we are going somewhere, I always say fine,” Prof Bortz said.

“I’m feeling great, I’m just after waking up,” he beamed as he descended on mile 14.

The professor is on a 10-day research mission here promoting the benefits of exercise.

“I like to show people they can stay 26 years of age all their lives. The key to a long life is exercise, keeping fit.

“I just took part in an exercise study in the States recently and the results showed I was 30 years younger than my age.”

Prof Bortz took up running at 39 after becoming depressed following the death of his father.

Every year since, he has completed a marathon.

“I was depressed, my father was dying. I decided to get up and go out running. It’s the best medicine. It’s cheap and there are no side-effects. People shouldn’t just be taking pills – they should be exercising.”