Tina Chilton is 85 years young. She can out-plank people half her age, including a young intern who was blown away by Tina’s drive for fitness and desire to excel. Born in Texas to parents who were originally from Mexico, she has lived all over the United States and the world thanks to military service. A current member of FiftyForward Donelson Station, Tina shares in this podcast her zest for life and how she stays young in heart, body, and soul.

Q. Why do you stay so focused on being active?

I guess I’m just that kind of person. I’m really just naturally lazy, but I like to learn, and the only way you do that is you got to get involved. So that’s what I do.

tina Chilton side plank

Q. Tell us about one of your average days ….

I spend a lot of time at the senior center and so I’ll do … yoga. And then, later on, I (may) go home or I do running around … and then come back and do Zumba. They now have this class called qigong, so I do that too. And then, when I get home and I do whatever needs to be done, wash clothes or whatever. I try not to do too much cleaning because that’s not my favorite thing to do. Then I’m just more or less in for the night.

Tina talks about her roots and growing up in a neighborhood where many of her friends’ parents were from other countries. Tina explained the languages and cultures were varied so she learned about other people and their communities in her childhood. This international flavor also sparked Tina’s interest in travel, her love of adventure, and for trying new things.

Tina military photo


Q. Commitment to service is part of your DNA. Why do you think that is?

I joined the military because I wanted to travel. And at that time also, there used to be the draft for males and several of my brothers got drafted; one went to Germany, and I had a cousin who went to Korea …. And I just thought …. I want to do that.  So, I joined the military.

In the interview, Tina talks about stretching her knowledge about the world and the military, including being transferred from an intercontinental ballistic missile base because females were not allowed on such military bases. She recounts stories of living or visiting different parts of the world and with each location, “you learn different things.”

Tina goes on to speak about why she joined the Air National Guard and the opportunities it has provided her. She recounts adventures of being in locations where others may not have wanted to go see the sights or cultural landmarks and how she’d just set out on her own to explore the surroundings.

In addition, she tackles tough topics including memory loss, elder care, and nursing homes and encourages all of us to have those conversations with family members as they are often eventualities as we get older.

tina chilton current photo

Q. What sort of tips do you have for older adults to stay vibrant as they age?

I think they should all try anything they would like and have never done — and [that] they are physically able to do…  At the senior center when we first start doing our strength training you just pick up a small weight and then you build yourself up. And if you never get to 10 pounds, so what? I just keep doing stuff. There’s so much out there.

Learn about this independent octogenarian as well as her drive to stay relevant and engaged with others across the generations. Her stories of Humvees and dump trucks, world travel, and trying new things demonstrate her desire to live life to the fullest and to remain independent as long as possible. Get inspired to be active, care for yourself, and live your best life in this Squeeze the Day. Tina’s story is genuine as she shares her appetite for discovery, her quest for independence, and her infatuation with ice cream.

This Squeeze the Day is brought to you by the All of Us Research Program from the National Institutes of Health. Learn how you can help change the future of health by participating in the program.

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