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Jack LaLanne: A Fitting End At 96

A family friend who died a few years back used to poke fun at my father's zest for healthy living. Now in his 70s, Dad works out nearly every day, eats pretty well and leads a demonstrably healthier life than his virtually chairbound, blogging son.

The friend, a doctor, loved to ask Dad what he planned to do with his "extra six months" of life?

Jack LaLanne had the answer. Living well has its own daily rewards. No matter how many years you're destined to spend on this planet, you'll be better off staying in shape.

Maybe you'll cheat death a little longer, but staving off frailty and living life vigorously, as LaLanne did, may be the surer return on your lifestyle investment.

He died of complications from pneumonia at his California home Sunday. He was 96. But his agent said he exercised right up until the end.

Long before fitness and healthy eating were fashionable, LaLanne led by example. "The only way you can hurt the body is not use it," he said. "Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it's never too late."

In 2004, NPR's Tom Goldman checked in with LaLanne just before his 90th birthday. Before Goldman knew it, LaLanne was leading him through a simple yet demanding workout using a chair. Goldman remembers that meeting and LaLanne's full life here.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Hensley edits stories about health, biomedical research and pharmaceuticals for NPR's Science desk. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led the desk's reporting on the development of vaccines against the coronavirus.