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Louis Hauser, had polio, but has walked for exercise everyday for nearly 40 years. Most days he walks with his wife through the neighborhood once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

How I Got This Body: Fit for life

  • Article by: Sheila Mulrooney Eldred
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • July 11, 2011 - 1:26 PM
Louis Hauser thought the polio that had afflicted him as an infant was a thing of the past, until one day when he was painting the house about 40 years ago. He tried to step up a ladder with his right leg, and couldn’t. The polio had never bothered him as a youngster, but the ladder incident made him realize he’d need to get in shape if he wanted to avoid further issues with his leg and the heart problems that run in his family. He started riding his bike around the lake every morning, and has rarely missed a day of exercise since.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE: My parents saw me falling down in my crib, but the polio wasn't that severe, and it wasn't really treated. Some of my friends had huge iron casts and walked with canes. My polio was probably a blessing in disguise because it didn't hold me back from anything when I was younger, and it got me to get into shape. It doesn't keep me from doing much ... but if I fall I can't get up. When I got down to pull weeds in the garden the other day I had to shimmy up the shovel handle to get up.

KEEP RUNNING: When I was about 6, there was a lot of controversy about post-polio syndrome. Some neurologists said you should walk with a cane and take lots of naps. I went to see a neurologist, and he said, well, if you don't quit jogging you won't be able to walk in 10 years. I was in the doldrums to think I couldn't run. But I researched and found out that actually, I should have more exercise.

PARTNERS: I started running when I was about 40, and my wife, Mary, joined me when she was about 53. I still run most of the way, but my jogging is not as fast. I expend just as much energy, but it takes me three times as long to get somewhere as it used to. My wife has been very supportive and she's a very good athlete herself. We run together in the morning and sometimes jump in the lake afterward and swim 150 feet or so.

ON THE MOVE: We do a lot of things together: We've taken a lot of bike trips to Europe, and we always do a morning walk in case we don't do anything else all day. We even go when it's below zero -- it's really exhilarating. Quite often we'll say: Isn't this wonderful? It's too bad not everyone can do this. And we'll see people out alone when we're running. You don't see husbands and wives [exercising] together too often.

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