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Bodybuilder, 72, and ex-Mr Universe contestant pumps iron to fight off Covid

A 72-year-old school at age 11 who appeared in the famous Mr Universe contest five times claims pumping iron fends off coronavirus.

A. Arokiasamy works out every single day despite his age, and says staying healthy and completing a vigorous exercise routine is the best defence against Covid-19.

Arokiasamy, who represented Malaysia several times for Mr Universe, also won gold in the 1981 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.

He hails bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became the face of the global competition at the young age of 20 in 1967, as his hero.

Arokiasamy began coaching aspiring bodybuilders in weight-lifting and opened up a gym in Teluk Intan, Perak, his hometown, writes South China Morning Post.

Arokiasamy, who has seven children and five grandchildren, said: “Weightlifting and exercise can slow down ageing and keep you healthy.

“The deadly coronavirus pandemic is threatening us – we can fight it by lifting weights to stay fit.”

His gym, filled with battered weights and a mix-match of gear – some created from scrap metal – is bustling with men getting tips from the veteran bodybuilder.

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Arokiasamy left school at age 11 to work and support his poor family and had a tough upbringing.

He tried his hand at several sports, including hockey and football, but didn't make any teams.

Although he built up his strength by chopping wood and decided to try bodybuilding instead.

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In 1968, the dad-of-seven won the gold medal in his home state of Perak and went onto compete in Malaysia and internationally.

He completed his contests while still holding down a day job as a school gardener.

The 72-year-old now works as a security guard.

Arokiasamy says he's managed to maintain his healthy by eating well and regularly working out.

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He claims he has a simple diet and grows his own vegetables as part of his regime.

He added: “I live a simple life and strive for a balanced diet … I grow my own vegetables.

“I avoid sugar and junk food, and [it’s] a big no to drugs and steroids.”

Despite his gold medal and accomplishments – he does have some regrets.

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He claims his biggest is not meeting legend Arnie.

“Not meeting Arnold [Schwarzenegger] in person, and failing to make it into the final round of the Mr Universe tournament after five attempts”, he said.

Arokiasamy claims lifting weights 'slows down ageing' and only charges gym-goers the equivalent of US $1 to use facilities.

Research from 2018 claims lifting weights for less than an hour a week can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70%.

But scientists said spending more than an hour pumping iron didn't reap extra benefits on health.

Also, a study by Penn State College of Medicine found that people over the age of 65 and older had their life expectancy improved after completing strength training at least twice a week.

The study, in 2016, looked at data from 15 years of more than 30,000 elderly people in the US.

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