Health: How seniors in Hamburg motivate themselves to exercise

Hamburg. They just exist, these biological wonders. These over 80 year olds who still have one fitness is blessed, which makes many 40-year-olds who are reluctant to move pale. What they have that I do not have is the question that often arises as a reflex, or more precisely: How do they cope?

That’s exactly what the four of us have Hamburgers and hamburger asked – and sometimes got surprisingly simple answers. Most important first: Yes, these four people also have a weaker self, they even know it quite well. That this can be overcome with astonishingly simple sentences is a welcome insight from our conversations.

Health: Senior woman swims 1000 meters a week

After all, there are always reasons to postpone the originally planned running unit until the next day, confirms Ursula Neubauer, who at the age of 75 still swims 1000 meters a week. “Especially now in the autumn, when it is gloomy and cold and wet outside.” The results of the countless studies should be reason enough to stay on the ball in terms of fitness. Sport strengthens the immune system, lowers high blood pressure and allows us to age healthier.

Exercise physiologists at Ball State University in Indiana found that 75-year-olds who had been exercising regularly for years had a cardiovascular system similar to that of people in their mid-40s. Which is particularly surprising because adults over the age of 30 lose about ten percent of their ability to process oxygen every decade. Anyone who now thinks: If only I had started earlier, is of course right, but still makes a little mistake: Even at the age of 50, 60 or even 90 years, the human body can still build muscle and thus relieve the heart. Therefore, it makes perfect sense, like Gerda Seyffarth at the age of 94, to still go to the gym and work out with weights there.



Ian Karan (82): “Sometimes it’s about the will for me”

“Of course, I realize that I’m not 20 anymore when I play sports. For example, in tennis, when I play doubles, I notice that my reflexes and my speed slow down. But you just have to accept that you are not so lively. as a 20-year-old, you can not influence it yourself.

What I can definitely influence is my fitness – and thus also my mental health. A healthy mind lives only in a healthy body, this old saying retains its true core even in old age. Sport still has a fixed place in my life. Even as a child in Sri Lanka, the country where I was born, I was constantly on the go, playing cricket or boxing. We had almost nothing else, we did not know a Gameboy or anything like that.


Today I go to the gym three times a week and do my exercises, my personal trainer comes twice a week; I also do tennis training once a week and play doubles every 14 days. When it comes to fitness exercises in particular, my will is often the only thing that counts. I have to overcome my weaker self and it is not easy.

In moments like this, I make myself realize how much it means to be physically fit, how high my quality of life is as a result. And that there are consequences for not torturing oneself. I see this in friends who are sometimes much younger than me, but who are physically and mentally aggravated because they hardly move anymore. What I never have to take myself to is playing tennis. Early in the morning and then also in the fresh air, for me it is pretty much the most beautiful thing there is. ”

Gerda Seyffarth (94): “In case of emergency, just take the stairs”

“Even as a child I was always into handball. In fact, I would have loved to play football, but it was not available to girls back then. Handball was a lot of fun for me at sports festivals when I was young and it ended up being the sport of my life. I started when I was 15 and when I was 18 I also became a youth team coach. At the age of 60, I played my last match for Alstertaler Sportverein.

I have been practicing 10 minutes of gymnastics every morning for 40 years and I really have to force myself to do it on a regular basis, but I know it is good for me and has a positive effect on my health. Therefore, it is not easy to see that friends, some of whom are 15 years younger than me, can no longer get out of their armchairs alone, have dementia or spend their lives in wheelchairs.


When you get old you have to adjust, but you always have to do something. In an emergency, use the stairs as your only exercise aid and walk up and down them every day. Above all, it is important not to be afraid of not being able to go up the stairs at some point. I only think about it when the time comes.

Until then, I continue as before – doing my gymnastics every morning, going for a walk with my friends along the Alster on Tuesdays, keeping an eye on my diet (no carbs after 6pm!) And going to the gym on the Alstertal-Langenhorn. sports club every Friday. It keeps me physically and mentally fit, and then I am also able to pursue my other hobbies in addition to sports, such as painting or writing my biography. ”

Peter Grimm (81): “I want to go out into the world again”

Sometimes I think it can not fit that I am still so fit at the age of 81 years. I am thankful to God for every day and it feels to those around me too. But maybe I owe it not only to God but also my passion for dance that I still do so well today.

As a 14-year-old, I moved with my family from the Dithmarschen to the big city of Hamburg. To find a connection here, I first signed up for apparatus gymnastics. Two years later, some of my classmates joined the dance club. I have been with a few times and then did not want to stop. While looking for a dance partner, I met my future wife Elke at Club Céronne in Eimsbüttel. She died four years ago.


Today I train once a week with my trainer Jurij Kaiser (35) in Céronne Club in Eimsbüttel Gymnastikforening. Yuri gives me so much peace and is a true stroke of luck for me. But my goal is to participate again next year in the tournament in Blackpool, the Mecca of dance sports. I have been there five or six times and I would love to return. But I’m still looking for a new partner who’s over 60, dances in senior IV class or performance level 66 and comes from the Hamburg area. I so want to go out into the world again.

Above all, dance keeps my head in shape. I just enjoy dancing and a positive side effect is that I stay physically fit. My current wife always says, ‘If I take his dance, he’s just watching TV and lying on the couch.’ Maybe she’s right, if I do not have my dance, I’m lazy. Horst Hrubesch recently said: ‘Football is only fun if you enjoy it too.’ That’s right, and the same goes for dance. ”

Ursula Neubauer (75): “I was never a lone fighter”

“I do not remember when I started swimming. I became a member of SV Poseidon when I was born, my mother took care of that – and in Niendorf we lived next to what was then the club’s outdoor pool, so we only had to cross the fence and be in the water.

I have been true to swimming ever since. I swam in German championships, played water polo and still swim all year round, 1000 meters once a week, it is not much, but it is important. I also play tennis, go to the gym every week and cycle a lot.

As you get older, you need to do something. It’s that simple, otherwise your body will take revenge. Even when my children were small, my husband and I did – if I wanted to play sports, he stayed with the children and vice versa. Although I never needed to and never had to pull myself together to swim. Water is such an amazing element, I’ve been thinking about it my whole life. If I can swim, I’m happy.


Sports just have to be. One can not just sit on the couch and say, oh, the weather is so bad today and it was stressful at work. Therefore, it is always good to have a friend or even a group with whom you play sports, so there is a certain compulsion, and you also ask: man, why were you not there last? As a lone fighter, it would have been a lot harder for me to keep up. Of course, I also have to overcome my weaker self from time to time, but to be honest, I don’t really talk to him that much. Come on, it has to, I say to myself in moments like this. ”

Updated: Tue, 30/11/2021, 05:47

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