99-year old retired surgeon's advice: Stay fit, eat chocolate
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99-year old retired surgeon's advice: Stay fit, eat chocolate

When it comes to working out, Bob Hardaway does not mess around.

“I exercise twice a day — Monday through Monday,” says Hardaway, 99.

Yup, you read that right: 99, as in just a digit and a smidge over a month shy of 100. Hardaway hits the century mark on Jan. 9.

Since he moved to Tucson from El Paso, Texas, eight years ago, Hardaway’s faithfully attended Silver Sneakers, a senior fitness class at Desert Sports & Fitness, 2480 N. Pantano Road.

Hardaway, who recently started using a walker, may not be fast, but he’s consistent.

“Like clockwork, you see him three days a week,” says General Manager Kelly Shupe.

The club has 13 members over the age of 90, and Hardaway’s king of the nonagenarians.

“He’s a real inspiration,” says Darla Gentry, the club’s senior adviser.

The 50-minute Silver Sneakers class puts gym goers through the paces, using resistance bands and weights all while peppy music plays in the background.

Hardaway’s daughter, Joan, drives him to the gym for his workouts.

“I like the exercises,” Hardaway says. More than that, he says with a slight smile, “I like the girls.”

Along with the three-times-a-week classes, his fitness regimen includes working out with a personal trainer once a week and cycling on his recumbent bike every day.

Hardaway, the father of four and a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, has always had a lot of stamina. He and his late wife Lee played tennis into their 80s. While a surgeon stationed in Oahu during World War II, Hardaway was the first doctor on the scene at North Sector General Hospital in Schofield Barracks when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He worked 48 hours straight — even under a blanket with flashlights through a nighttime blackout — while Japanese planes continued to strafe the building.

When he’s not breaking a sweat, Hardaway and Joan participate in a local history club that Lee started years ago. Hardaway — whose father was also an Army doctor who delivered his son in the Philippines after a typhoon rocked the islands — has had some previous health scares. He recovered from both a heart attack and bladder cancer. He says his biggest problem these days is that he’s hard of hearing.

“He takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” says Joan, 67, a retired pathologist.

Hardaway says the secret to longevity is a simple one: “Chocolate,” he chuckles. “It helps.”

Contact Kristen Cook at kcook@tucson.com or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski

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