At 97, Doug Beavers is not one to hold back.

“I’ll tell it like it is, and that’s the truth,” said the World War II veteran.

He’s also an avid horseback rider.

“They exercise you,” said Beavers.

Not much has reigned him in -- not even congestive heart failure. Beavers had his second pacemaker put in this year. Last March, his wife nudged him to join the Better Breathers Club at Texas Health Stephenville.

“He’s in here Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said respiratory therapist Brian Andrews.

Three days per week, graduate student trainers from Tarleton State University guide Beavers through a full body workout: cardio, weights, walking and stretching, all while monitoring his heart, blood pressure and pulse.

“Usually, we use what’s called a six-minute walk test,” said Andrews, director of Cardio-Pulmonary Services at Texas Health Stephenville. “That gives us a baseline of how far this person can actually walk in six minutes.”

When you breathe, your diaphragm expands and contracts, moving air in and out of your lungs. The muscles within your rib cage and up into your shoulders are secondary “helper” muscles.

“[For] people who have difficulty breathing, the body has to compensate,” said Andrews. “And it compensates by using these accessory muscles. By helping to strengthen those accessory muscles, that helps the body to compensate better.”

Since joining the Better Breathers Club, Beavers feels better than ever.

“When I came here, I couldn’t walk. I had to hold onto something just to move around,” said Beavers. “And now, I can walk across the room.”

Thanks to his training, Beavers is looking ahead to his 100th birthday celebration.

To learn more about the Better Breathers Club go here.