Lifelong physical and mental health is most often the result of simple daily habits that can help us stay active, strong, and happy well into our later years. As winter—the season of cozy naps and delicious holiday treats—sets in, we are taking inspiration from Pacific Pines resident Jyme Cates (who recently celebrated her 80th birthday) and her lifelong habit of daily physical activity as well as her goal to “scale the Strat” this coming February. 

A lifelong athlete who finds joy in movement.

Ms. Cates says, “It brings my mood up” to be active every day. She was a cyclist and swimmer from an early age and spent her childhood exploring the oilfields of Midland Odessa, TX, on a bike. She reflected, “I love the bicycle; I get on [it], and I feel like a free bird.” As an adult, she adopted running and has completed several 10K races as well as a half marathon. Another love, skiing, derailed her plan to run a marathon. Ms. Cates was a cardiac nurse and would ski for free in exchange for going out as a member of the ski patrol at the end of the day at Ski Apache; unfortunately a bad fall meant the marathon would have to wait.  

Ms. Cates has hardly slowed down in her later decades. She is still an avid cyclist, consistently riding 20 – 30 miles a week, and celebrated her 80th birthday by riding over 36 miles on the River Mountains Loop Trail with members of her church. She even finds ways to support her community and get a little extra exercise with her daily “tidy walks” around Pacific Pines, picking up stray litter and getting in some cross-training for sore muscles from bicycling and stair climbing. “I wake up feeling stiff, and I go out [on my tidy walk] and bend, bend, bend, and I feel better.” 

Stairs were a natural next “step.”

“We were not having good bicycle weather in November, December, as winter came, and . . . I was getting depressed about losing my ability to cycle. And then I saw it [Scale the Strat] on TV, and I thought . . . I’ve got stairs right here—four sets of them! So I set my goal for next February, and I started exercising on the stairs.” 

“I read an article about the Stratosphere, and it told how many steps—1,455—so I counted the stairs in all the stairwells here . . . and I added them all up and . . . I have my little list here, each stairwell and how many times I have to do it.” 

“I take the stairs every day. But I try to do it [the 1,455 stairs] at least four times a week. If I get to ride the bicycle a good amount . . . I just do the stairs a few times. I tell people, ‘I scaled the Strat today.’ I train alone but . . . the two [Pacific Pines] maintenance men said right off ‘we’ll do it with you.’ Every so often, I run into them and remind them.” 

“It’s more strenuous than I thought it would be! But . . . [I’ve scaled the Strat] many times in my own building. . . . My goal is just to be able to make it. I’m pretty sure I can.” 

Finally, some simple advice for anyone hoping to follow in Ms. Cates (stair) steps:

“Just get started! Just go for it.” 

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