09/24/2014 05:51 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST

I Danced the Waltz at 99 Years Old. You Can Too

My name is Mary Peel, I'm 99 years old and 5 foot 2. I live in Ontario at St. Catharines Place Senior Living Facility and right now we're celebrating Active Aging Week. It's a week where we all get together for different activities each day to keep our bodies moving and our minds sharp.

Even though this week is all about being active, I always try to stay active anyway. I dance all of the time here, whenever I can, because it keeps me moving.

I have always loved to dance. I danced all of the time with my first husband and, after he passed, danced all of the time with my second. I haven't always had an easy life, my father became ill when I was younger and so instead of going to high school I went to work to make money. But I've always tried to find my own ways to better myself, even if it wasn't through school, and dancing has always made me happy - it kept me moving and kept me social. As much as I loved it, though, I stopped dancing for 11 years. After my second husband passed, I just didn't have anyone to dance with.

When I moved into St. Catharines six years ago, I was very shy, but I met a man named Art in the hallway. He was nice enough to show me around the place, and I was lucky enough to find out he loved dancing, too. I had finally found another partner. I can still do the jitterbug, but Art can't so we do the waltz. The waltz is so graceful which is why we both love it, but it's also my favourite because you can hug as tight as you want when you're dancing it!

Art and I get on the dance floor as often as we can, whenever there is a musician here to play for us. And even when we're not dancing, I try to keep moving every day. I'll be the first to tell you it's such an important part of living a happy life (that, and always telling the truth. I never lie; my father said if you lie you need to remember all your lies which is too difficult, especially at my age.) I make a point to get outside every day and walk a couple of blocks in my heels. I know, people ask me why I don't wear flat shoes, but I started wearing heels when I was 16 so by this point I'm just used to it. I walk around the seniors community and a few blocks around the neighbourhood each day. It's not as social as dancing but I like it better than just sitting.

And that's how I stay active, and I'll keep it up even when I'm 100 next year! I'm glad we have Active Aging Week to celebrate moving, waltzing and walking when we're old or young -- just remember to keep dancing the other 51 weeks of the year, too.


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