Senior fitness is the wave of the future as more and more seniors stay active after retirement.
Retiring used to mean sitting around and not doing much of anything. Now it means lacing up those runners for a 10km run or a mile worth of laps in the pool.
A NEW BREED OF SENIOR CITIZEN
It was just a generation ago when the standard retirement or “golden years” for most seniors involved doing little that would be mentally or physically challenging.
The thinking was that when retire after you spent 45 or 50 years of your life working when you should suddenly adopt a lifestyle of non-activity.
A lifestyle that requires little in the way of physical activity because it was time to rest after all those years of work.
Unfortunately our bodies do not respond well to doing “nothing.” When it senses the shift in lifestyle to inactivity it responds the only way it can.
Without the need to pump blood to working muscles as often with no senior fitness in the equation, the cardiovascular system stops working as efficiently.
Food is stored as fat and major arteries become constricted and it was not uncommon for people to pass away within years of retiring. It is the ultimate “use it or lose it” scenario.
That was then and this is now and it is not unusual at all these days for seniors to be taking fitness classes, lifting a few weights, or going out for a long power-walk or perhaps for a run.
Triathlon has become the sport of choice for many people over 50 and even 60 and at any given Ironman race you can expect to see awesome seniors entered in 60-64, 65-69, and even the 70-74 age-group.
Very cool! Well into the golden years and still able to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and cover a 26.2 mile marathon course–and all that in under 17 hours! Now thatis senior fitness.
ALONG CAME THE “GLADYATOR”
In December 2010, 92-year-old Gladys Burrill, nicknamed the “Gladyator” took on the Honolulu Marathon and finished the course in just over 10 hours.
At the time it was believed that Gladys was the oldest woman in the world to complete a marathon. Just recently that was confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Gladys was very calm about the whole thing and stated that she walks most days and covers dozens of miles a week. Just so I can refresh your memory…she’s 92 years old!
Way back when Gladys was just an 85-year-old youngster she saw the fireworks display from the Honolulu Marathon and decided she would give it a try and took part in her first marathon the next year as an 86-year-old marathon rookie.
Four more marathons would follow after her initial foray into the event.
Although Gladys is tempted to take on this years Honolulu Marathon she feels here marathon days are over and plans to be on the side-lines cheering on friends who are in the race.
By the way, a woman named Jenny Wood-Allen held the record before being de-throned by the Gladyator. Jenny finished the London Marathon in 2002 at 90 years old.
AN INSPIRATION FOR ALL OF US
Whether she meant to or not, Gladys has given new meaning to senior fitness and is an inspiration to many people both young and old.
It gives us all hope that when it’s our turn to supposedly “dial it down” as we enter our own golden years that we can instead get out that bike, put on those runners or hit the pool for a brisk early morning swim.
More importantly Gladys has shown that even if one is 55 or 60 and out of shape, it’s not too late to begin an athletic career and perhaps run some races of your own.
It’s pretty cool to thing that if a 60-year-old were to start running today, they would have 32 years or one-third of their life to duplicate the amazing Gladyator’s feat.
So maybe life truly does begin at 60.
You might enjoy this article on seniors sport and recreation.