Active Seniors, Endurance and Resilience
85-year-old marathon runner and 97-year-old dog walker demonstrate the benefits of physical activity.
Active seniors have been in the news this week.
On Saturday I read about Ed Whitlock, the 85 year old marathon record breaker. He was interviewed after breaking the record for the 85 to 89 year age group in a standard marathon. He ran the 42.2 km Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3 hours, 56 minutes.
That is an incredible performance, my best ever marathon time at age 39 was 3 hours 20 minutes and I finished in the first half or the field.
Ed was a late starter, only running his first marathon at age 46. At age 73 he covered the distance in 2 hours 54 minutes, a time very few 30 year old runners can achieve. He has broken almost 20 records for the marathon.
You can read the full interview in the National Post.
Another example from the ranks of active seniors is Sally the 97 year old dog walker from England who walks 10 dogs a day.
Her video on BBC3 has gone viral with over 10 million views in three days. (Permission only given to share video, not embed)
One of the most amazing examples of endurance performance by active seniors is that of Wally Hayward who in 1930, first won the 85 km Comrades Marathon in South Africa at age 21. He then won it four more times 20 years later in the years 1950 to 1954 when at age 45 he set the record for the oldest winner. The record stood until 2004. He missed the 1952 race as he was running in the Helsinki Olympics.
In 1988, after a break of over 30 years, Wally Hayward completed the race again at age 79. Not only did he complete the race, but he finished in 9 hours 44 minutes, placing himself in the first half of the field and only 24 minutes behind me, a 37 year old running my first Comrades Marathon. He ran the race again the following year, just before his 81st birthday, finishing only 2 minutes inside the 11 hour cut off time.
Wally Hayward at age 79 completing the 85 km Comrades Marathon
Comrades MArathon - image credit - SA People News
There are many more examples of active seniors including over 90 year olds riding horses and plus 80 year olds sky diving.
It just goes to show that we don't have to stop being physically active as we get older.
Not all of us can expect to break records running marathons in our 80s, but being active in our earlier years will help us to continue being active physically and mentally in later life.
Regular exercise builds mental resilience and physical endurance, both essential ingredients for overcoming and thriving on adversity.
Adversity can strike at any age. In today's changing world, many people of all ages are confronted with unexpected challenges. Active seniors are much better equipped to overcome those challenges.
For ideas on overcoming and thriving on adversity, get my book - 5 Steps To Thriving On Adversity.