SAN DIEGO -- Frederick Kasch, a health and fitness pioneer, died earlier this month at a San Diego hospital at the age of 94, about a week shy of his 95th birthday.

In 1958, at was then known as San Diego State College, Kasch started one of the first adult-fitness programs in the country and pioneered long-term studies documenting the effect of exercise on the aging cardiovascular system, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Kasch, an avid jogger for most of his life, shunned the belief that anyone older than 35 should cut down on exercise.

The program began as a class for men between the ages of 35 and 60 who wanted to stay healthy. The class also included some men with heart problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or who had suffered heart attacks.

Joyce Gattas, dean of San Diego State University’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, told the Union-Tribune that Kasch made a difference in thousands of lives through his research and the Adult Fitness Clinic, now called the Center for Optimal Health and Performance, that he established on campus.

“He was a man before his time,” Gattas said. “There weren’t all these gyms 50 years ago like there are now. He was probably a lone voice out there talking about the importance of exercise.”

Kasch earned two doctorates, one from New York University in 1956 and one from Walden University in 1982. He published many research papers and articles and received several honors, including the President’s Council on Physical Fitness award. Kasch was a board member of the American College of Sports Medicine, among other professional societies.