Welcome to STEPS Fitness’s first ever guest contributor on this blog. Sally Phillips, a freelance writer, has offered to share her writings with me to share the personal stories that motivate and inspire others. I usually dispense the science. It’s nice to sometimes hear from real people who make real changes.
Many seniors submit to the myth that exercise is hard at their age. Some myths such as “you’re too old to start now”, “exercise is too rigorous for your bones”, or “exercise will cause a heart attack” plague the minds of seniors and prevent many from starting a healthy fitness routine. However, these myths are all false. In fact, exercise optimizes heart health and diminishes the risk of heart problems and attacks, strengthens bones to prevent falls, and improves mood and memory. Take it from these great senior fitness inspirations, you are never too old to achieve your fitness goals.
Shirley Webb: A 79-year-old from East Alton, Illinois, Shirley Webb is a record-setting senior weightlifter. Two years ago, she was unable to get off the floor without help, yet today she can do so with no assistance, as well as deadlift a 225-pound barbell with ease. What started as a simple visit to the gym with her 20-year-old granddaughter turned into free-weight training and an American record holder. Webb says that she works out two to three times a week with her trainer who has helped her train to her current level. Take inspiration from Shirley Webb and follow some of her workout guidelines.
Work out with a buddy, be assisted by a patient senior-friendly trainer, and pace yourself.
Harriette Thompson: At 91 years young, Hariette Thompson set a world record completing the San Diego Marathon in 7 hours, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds. Not only was this impressive at her age, but Thompson also hit the ground running weeks after undergoing radiation treatment for skin cancer. She still wore the bandages to cover the wounds from the cancer treatment proudly throughout the race.
So what’s her secret? Thompson says yoga and stretching classes as well as her exercises on the elliptical trainer, help her to maintain stamina and discipline.
Next time, you go out for a stroll, think of Harriett’s story and maybe you’ll pick up your pace.
Tao Porchon-Lynch: At 96, Porchon-Lynch is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest yoga instructor. Not only is she an inspiration, but she has been spreading her story and motivating students for over 56 years. Students fifty years younger than her have a hard time keeping up with Porchon-Lynch during her classes. Even after undergoing a full hip replacement, this yoga instructor is determined to never give up.
Johanna Quaas: This is the world’s oldest active gymnast at the age of 91. She shows that there is no barrier to sporting achievement and impresses audiences with her flawless routines, including handstands and perfect dismounts. Although she was born into a family of gymnasts, Quaas gave it up to get married and raise children. She picked up the sport again in her fifties and competed at her first competition at the age of 56. Since then she has won eleven medals in senior gymnastic competitions. Quaas takes her journey one day at a time, and one exercise at a time. When she wakes up, she simply runs up and down the stairs to get her fitness started early.
Diana Nyad: At the age of 64, Diana Nyad was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. She attempted the swim five times, and was finally successful on her fifth. She swam through shark-infested waters and endured jellyfish stings, numbness, constant nausea, and dehydration. Her determination helped her succeed despite the odds and her story shows us that hard work and motivation helps us to never give up on our goals.
Fitness starts within you. According to Tao Porchon-Lynch, “Nothing is impossible and within you is the answer to everything”. It starts with your motivation to do better, and this motivation leads to extraordinary results from your mind to your health. Take it from Diana Nyad who said “Never, ever give up on your dream… you’re never too old to pursue your dream”. Simply get out there and start one day at a time. Eventually, you can be just like these five inspiration leaders, destroying the myths and changing the stereotype.