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Bolivian Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers Stay Fit With Handball

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In this Feb. 4, 2105 photo, 72-year-old Aurea Murillo prepares to make a pass during a handball match among elderly Aymara indigenous women in El Alto, Bolivia. Murillo said now that her children are grown she's dedicating time to herself and that playing handball makes her feel good.Juan Karita / AP

A group of Bolivian grandmothers and great-grandmothers have a pretty nontraditional way of easing the aches and pains of old age. These Aymara women get together every Wednesday in the city of El Alto and play handball.

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In this Feb. 4, 2105 photo, 72-year-old Aurea Murillo prepares to make a pass during a handball match among elderly Aymara indigenous women in El Alto, Bolivia. Murillo said now that her children are grown she's dedicating time to herself and that playing handball makes her feel good.Juan Karita / AP

The "awichas," as grandmothers are known in the Aymara language, don sports jerseys over their traditional skirts and look forward to meeting and exercising with friends every week.

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Elderly Aymara indigenous women play handball in El Alto, Bolivia.Juan Karita / AP

"There are days my knees hurt from rheumatism, but when I play it goes away," said 77-year-old Rosa Lima, who began doing simple exercises 8 years ago and then took up team handball.

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In this Jan. 28, 2105 photo, Rosa Lima plays handball with other elderly Aymara indigenous women in El Alto, Bolivia. “There are days my knees hurt from rheumatism, but when I play it goes away, ” said the 77-year-old.Juan Karita / AP

Team handball is an Olympic sport; two teams pass a ball using their hands to throw the ball into the opposite team's goal.

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Rosa Barco removes her sneakers after playing handball with fellow seniors in El Alto, Bolivia.Juan Karita / AP

The handball team is part of a program where about 10,000 older people are practicing sports and playing Andean music; they also get free medical care.

"This helps us a lot, said 84-year-old great-grandmother Juana Poma. "Look, I'm full of life, but I'm also thinner."

--The Associated Press

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