91-year-old Arizona man sets weightlifting record for bench press with 187.2-pound lift

  • Updated: June 14, 2013 - 1:15 PM

PHOENIX — A 91-year-old Arizona weightlifter feels good about his sport and it's apparent he's good at it.

Sy Perlis set the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters record for bench press in the 90-and-over age division when he benched 187.2 pounds at the National Bench Push-Pull Press and Dead Lift Championships on Saturday in Phoenix.

The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/1984ic8) reports that the association's previous record of 135 pounds had stood since 2005.

Perlis took up weightlifting when he was 60 but didn't enter his first championship competition until five years ago.

"I got a lot of satisfaction out of it, and it made me feel good, and it was good for me," the Surprise resident said.

When he competed in the division for 85- to 89-year-olds, Perlis won the state title in 2009 and world title in 2010 and 2011 in the 181-pound weight category.

Association President Gus Rethwisch said Perlis is an inspiration to others.

"We've had a lot of lifters in their middle 80s, late 80s and occasionally we get one 90 and over, but they've never inspired people (like Perlis has)," Rethwisch said.

Chhanda Dutta, chief of the Clinical Gerontology Branch of the National Institute on Aging, said it's a common misconception that exercise is unsafe for older people.

"The risk of leading a sedentary lifestyle is much greater than anything related to exercise," Dutta said. "I think it's important for people to realize that age alone doesn't determine the intensity of your workout."

Perlis said his doctor knows he participates in the sport and has told him, "If you can do it, do it."

His five-day-a-week training routine includes cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting.

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