LIFTING WEIGHTS AND WALKING MILES: ASBURY PARK RESIDENT STAYS IN SHAPE
By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
When her husband was alive, Nedra Starkey and her husband Jim traveled with a truck and fifth-wheel, going to every state in the Union. There’s a map on her dining room wall denoting where they traveled in the States. They also traveled outside of the United States, as Starkey has a handmade rug she bought in Turkey.
Now, her travels aren’t as far and wide, but they are good for her health. The 92-year-old Asbury Park resident likes to travel, or rather walk, at least 6,000 steps, or three miles, every day.
While traveling with her husband throughout the years, they visited many national parks.
“We have visited all of the national parks during all these travels,” Starkey said, adding there’s more than 380 national parks in the country.
Starkey said they bought national park booklets, and when they visited a national park, the parks stamped the books with the date and location on them.
“All you do is ask ’em for it, and you can put it in a book,” Starkey said. “They have books to put the stamps in.”
Although she doesn’t have booklets with stamps in them for her walking, Starkey keeps track of her steps on her phone. For instance, on Monday, she walked 6,935 steps. She did say that lately, she’s been off on her step numbers, since she’s had a cold.
Exercising is one way Starkey keeps healthy and fit. At Asbury Park in Newton, she attends a 45-minute exercise class a couple times a week, and she’s the one who sets up and takes down for the class.
On Wednesdays, she’s a regular at a one-hour aerobics class Tracie Strain with the Wellness Center at the Newton Activity Center teaches. About 20 attend that class at Trinity Heights United Methodist Church in Newton.
“She really puts us through the exercise,” Starkey said.
Starkey also walks around Asbury Park, and she carries hand weights when walking, as well as during Strain’s class.
“I think I’m in pretty good condition,” Starkey said.
She exercises for a variety of reasons.
“I like to walk around the campus,” she said. “It’s got some nice sidewalks and such. I feel safe without worrying about anyone being bothersome.”
In addition, if it’s cold outside, she can walk one of the Asbury Park halls, and Starkey said she’s also jogged in the hall.
“It seems to make me feel pretty good,” she said, adding another of her exercises is when she wakes up in the morning, she lifts her legs above her head while lying on her back and circles them around in both directions.
“Just twirl ’em around so they have a chance to keep my back in fairly good order,” she said. “I think it really works for me. People say don’t do something that will hurt you. Instead of stopping when it hurts, I keep going until it doesn’t.”
Starkey said she likes to move her muscles and also moves her shoulders around.
She plans to jog more outside this year because while jogging inside this year, she realized how much she likes it.
However, when she’s out exercising, she carries a tool.
“I carry my cane because I’m not always balanced when I walk,” she said. “Lots of times, I’ll just carry it. I’ve had people say, ‘Where’s your cane?’ if I don’t have it. It’s not because I can’t walk, because for some reason, my brain doesn’t keep me straight. I have to use it to keep me straight sometimes.”
Starkey, who weighs from 115 to 120 pounds on average and is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, fell a year ago in December.
“A big gust of wind came along and blew me and the trash can over,” she said, adding Dr. Pigg fixed her broken elbow. “I’ve had a little pain with it. My body doesn’t feel much pain. It’s nice to not have any. That’s one of the reasons I work on my legs in the mornings.”
In order to stay healthy, Starkey also watches what she eats.
“I don’t eat red meat hardly at all,” she said, adding at home, she’ll eat chicken, salmon, shrimp and lots of eggs. “I enjoy eggs.”
She likes to get a bunch of veggies that are precut from the grocery store, put them in the microwave for a minute, then into the skillet and topped off with eggs.
Starkey also goes for regular doctor appointments, including an eye doctor appointment, where she asked for a copy of pictures of her eyes they had taken. At the bottom of the copy, it was written, “Normal!”
“I have no eye problems,” she said, adding the doc found a tiny spot on her macula, but it was the same size last year.
She also takes vitamins, CoQ10, amino acids and probiotics.
Starkey showed one of her probiotics, which was a pill in a pill. The outer pill gets the inner pill past the stomach.
With all this life in her, Starkey almost didn’t make it after being involved in a head-on collision in 1978. She had internal injuries.
“They didn’t think I’d make it the night,” she said, adding her intestinal tract was injured.
At the time, the surgeon told her he did what he could to clean her out.
Needless to say, she lived, and she comes from a line of people who live a long time. Her dad passed away at the age of 103, and her mother was around 92 when she died. Starkey said her grandma was in her 90s when she passed, as well.
Starkey has lived some of her years at Asbury, moving into her apartment in 2001 with her husband when Asbury was Friendly Acres. She’s resided in the same apartment ever since.
She was married to a Methodist minister, and she taught school.
“I taught in Turner District 20 years,” she said, which was third- and fourth-grade in the Kansas City area.
They moved when Jim had another church appointment to places like Edwardsville and Clearview City in Kansas.
Starkey’s parents moved to Asbury when they no longer could take care of themselves, and as mentioned, Starkey and Jim moved there, too. Newton is just one of the places their travels took them.
“My husband wrote a book about all the parks,” Starkey said about the national parks, adding it was never published and was more like a travelogue, chronicling their adventures, like when the truck broke down.
“He just enjoyed writing what we were doing every day,” Starkey said.