Running for his life

Running for his life

Wayne man takes exercise very seriously

Triathlete Larry Silverman stands between his son, Jake, and his daughter, Hayley.

At 62 years old, Larry Silverman of Wayne is a testament to the power and effectiveness of regular vigorous exercise.

He most recently raced in the Olympic Length Triathlon National Championships in Milwaukee on August 9, where the invited athletes were among the top 33 percent in the country. Each had to have won a triathlon to qualify – Mr. Silverman had won two. “There were a lot of people ahead of me,” he acknowledged when asked about the result, but “I hit three hours,” his personal goal, so he felt satisfied.

The notion of three hours of panting and heaving may leave some of us feeling faint, but Mr. Silverman enjoys the training. “It’s three different sports, and I don’t overdo any one part. If it rains, you can focus on swimming or running.” Exercise makes him feel healthy, and he enjoys being outside. The more he bikes, the more he likes it. He has completed five 100-mile bike rides. He loves to watch the landscape as he rides, and “I can swim outside for three months of the year,” he said about the area where he lives. In the winter he does some running and biking, and swims indoors at the YMCA in Wayne, formerly the site of the YM-YWHA of North Jersey.

Mr. Silverman’s athletic life began in high school, where he was the captain of the Dumont cross-country team, which eventually went on to win the New Jersey state championship. In the late 1970s until the early 1980s, he practiced martial arts, and during the next 10 years he ran in many 5k and 10k competitions. “When I got to my forties, I switched to the triathlon,” he said, because of its focus on biking and swimming.

Mr. Silverman could be a poster boy for the government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for adults, along with muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week. For greater health benefits, the CDC suggests more of the same. Only a small percentage of American adults get that much exercise, however. More than 80 percent of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80 percent of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for youth, according to CDC statistics.

The Silverman family is different, though. The entire family is physically active. Mr. Silverman’s late wife was a championship swimmer and tennis player, and both his daughter and his son are swimmers.

Mr. Silverman even gets exercise when he goes to work. The property-management-company owner said he was up on a roof earlier on the day of his interview with the Jewish Standard. “Work takes so much time and energy that you need to balance it,” he said, and exercise is a great way to do that. He still has all his original joints, despite a lifetime of running and biking, and insists that age need not limit activity. Mr. Silverman belongs to the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, which has more than 1,500 members. “People in our club are in their seventies and eighties,” he said.

In addition to his work and his sports activities, Mr. Silverman serves on the community relations committee of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey – something he described as a whole other story. Despite doing the same exercise for decades, Mr. Silverman says he doesn’t get bored and credits good coaching and the support of his family.

The only part of his exercise program to have changed significantly was his swimming style – he began to swim seriously when he was 40. “I was probably doing it wrong” all that time, he said. But he has made adjustments across all his sports. Injuries four years ago led him to modify his running style.

“Your body ages and changes and you get new thoughts on how you exercise,” he said. “Every season I change my biking slightly. I don’t want to say I know it now.”

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