Baby boomer stays in shape through travel

Remember, the theme of BoomerCafé is baby boomers with active lifestyles and youthful spirits. We think we just found another in Michael Alster of East Meadow, New York. He doesn’t just stay in shape in the gym; he stays in shape through travel.

I’m often asked how I stay fit “for my age.” For the record, I’m only 62.

I’ve been traveling for most of my adult life, but only recently did I start to view travel as a fun and easy way to stay in shape.

Michael Alster (left) with his son, Jared.

Michael Alster (left) with his son, Jared.

It started back in 2006 when my son Jared and I had the crazy idea to see the world’s highest mountain — Mt. Everest. Not being professional mountain climbers, nor having a death wish, we had no plans to climb to the top. However, we did some research and decided that trekking to base camp, at more than 17,000 feet of elevation, was well within our physical reach.

So I began a training regimen, which combined cardio at the gym, running outdoors, and weight training — especially lower body and core work — to prepare for the three weeks of challenging terrain in Nepal. We successfully reached base camp in November of 2007 and it stands as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

At Camp 3 of Kilimanjaro.

At Camp 3 of Kilimanjaro – Michael with his guides.

Since then, I’ve discovered that my love of active travel keeps me fit even before the actual trip begins. Every time I book a trip, my training schedule kicks in and I spend a few months preparing for the big adventure. I find that having a goal, like a mountain to climb, motivates me to get up and work out even if I don’t feel like it.

In recent years, I’ve challenged myself to climb Mt. Rainier in Washington State and had the pleasure and privilege of traveling to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro — the highest peak in Africa and one of the world’s ‘Seven Summits.’

Michael Alster with his son on the summit of Kala Patthar - 18,300 feet - in Nepal during their trek to the Everest base camp.

Michael Alster with his son on the summit of Kala Patthar – 18,300 feet – in Nepal during their trek to the Everest base camp.

These experiences have also provided some quality moments of bonding with my son and even motivated him to launch his own travel website. I’m a proud poppa, seeing my son turn the love we’ve developed together into a career.

You don’t need to climb a mountain to reap the physical benefits of active travel. Just sign up for a local 5k run or join a cycling club. Next thing you know, you’ll be ready for a sensational cycling trip through France or Italy.

Michael Alster on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Michael Alster on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The more you stay in shape, the more amazing experiences you are prepared to participate in. And there’s a compound benefit: the healthier you are, the longer you are able to travel! Exercising just for the sake of it can be a bore, but exercising with the Himalayas on your horizon has a way of changing your perspective.


  1. Great advice. No question that the more you keep physically fit, the happier your Boomer days! This said, I find traveling terribly tiring, I’m always happy to be back home in my own bed and eat my own food cooked my own way (light on oil and butter, little to no frying!)

    But of course our Boomer friend here – congrats for being in such good shape! – is talking about “active” traveling. I’m personally not so keen on mountain climbing, my own “active travel” really consists in museum-going and that’s…exhausting!

  2. I’m with you, Michael. My husband and I turn 60 this year and we’ve enjoyed traveling together for over 40 years. Ironically, it seems that the older we get, the more adventurous we become. We did the week-long Tour du Mont Blanc in 2012 and this year we’ll do the 2-week GR20, which traverses Corsica. Being out in the wilderness definitely keeps you young and focused on what counts in life.

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