This is 80. The Golden Gals of Holdrege

Exercise is proven to help people age more slowly and live healthier more vigorous lives.

Three “Golden Gals” who are active at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA in Holdrege are prime examples.

Marilyn Ellner, 85; Millie Jones, 85; and Betty Schroeder, 80; look forward to their exercise at the YMCA not only for the physical benefits but the social aspect as well.

Millie has had an exercise routine since she got married. She retired from teaching in 2001, and she has been a member of the YMCA since it started in Holdrege in 2003.

“We had a treadmill, and I used it some, and then it became a clothes hangar,” Millie joked.

She has found exercise at the YMCA to keep her motivated to move. Her daily routine includes an 8:15 a.m. group exercise class with friends at the Y.

“I really like it because we go through balance, coordination and strength,” Millie said. “And I just enjoy the social part, too.”

She will sometimes add walking to her routine, too.

“Exercise has helped me stay active,” Millie said. “I like to get down and play with the great grandkids, and I can still get up and down. I’ve had blood pressure problems, so it helps control that.”

Millie also still washes her car by hand.

“Exercise helps you be able to do these things,” Millie said.

Marilyn Ellner retired from her nursing career in 1999. She has also been active most of her life.

Her daily routine now includes walking on the track or in the gym or in the park for 30-40 minutes five days a week. She also adds in some weightlifting on the YMCA’s Cybex machines a few times a week.

Marilyn loves to travel. She has trips planned to Southern France, Amsterdam and Budapest. Her travels often include lots of walking and sometimes on uneven cobblestone streets. Exercise keeps her healthy, balanced, and able to keep up with other travelers.

“That’s why I keep going to the YMCA,” she said. “To continue to maintain this activity.”

Betty has always enjoyed sports, starting with playing volleyball in high school. She also was an original YMCA member, and when she retired in 2008 from her job at the Holdrege Public Schools Central Office, she found more time to exercise.

Her favorite exercise right now is playing pickleball. She plays with a group of friends from the YMCA most mornings (outside at the North Park when the weather is nice and inside the YMCA when its colder).

She is the oldest pickleball player among the group, but you would never know it!

When she’s not playing pickleball, she enjoys the 8:15 a.m. YMCA group exercise class, which includes some strength training.

The health benefits of exercise have also been good for Betty.

“I can sit down, stand up, and I can move pretty easy,” she said. “I can walk pretty fast, and I just feel like I’m healthy. I’ve seen people who don’t exercise who are my age and they are paying for it.”

All three Golden Gals said they also enjoy the social aspect of exercising at the YMCA.

“I’ve met so many people here,” Betty said. “After we exercise or play pickleball, we have coffee together. People need to be around other people.”

Millie said she also has met many new friends at the YMCA, and Marilyn said it’s always fun to “solve the world’s problems” over a cup of coffee after they exercise.

One of the other perks of reaching that “Golden” age of 80 is that all three YMCA of the Prairie branches offer FREE memberships to anyone 80 and older.