Aging comes with preconceived expectations. Unfortunately, approaching senior status comes with stereotypes of fragility, fatigue, and a slower pace of life. While this may be a reality for some, it’s certainly not a defining trait of senior status. In fact, many seniors pick up the pace, and some even transform their life in a downright unbelievable way. If you’re looking to keep in tip-top shape, you might want to take a few health and wellness tips from these incredible senior athletes:
1. Kay Glynn
Kay Glynn is nothing short of a superstar. When she graduated from Nishna Valley High School in Southwestern Iowa in 1971, she held the high school long jump state record. Of course, that was way back in the day… right? For most, high school glory days are worth reminiscing on. For Glynn, they were worth returning to. After about three decades, she returned to track and field. Armed with experience in acrobatics, she fell back in love with the sport and began competing. She’s now a world renowned athlete… even though she graduated from her high school athletic career nearly five decades ago!
Check out this incredible interview by Aberdeen American News to see her in action:
2. Vivian Stancil
Incredible and inspiring is Vivian Stancil, a senior that decided to take her health into her own hands. She was 50 when she decided to learn to swim… even though she has been blind since the age of 19. Believe it or not, swimming was just one of many hurdles she overcame in her life. She married at a young age and had children, yet she still managed to put herself through college and retire at a young age. Her weight and health become a concern a couple decades ago, and that was when she decided to start swimming. Ever since, she’s participated in (and placed in) a number of competitions.
We absolutely adore her energy in this interview with Humana:
3. Flo Meiler
Flo Meiler has achieved what every athlete hopes to – she’s set records and has taken home a number of medals. What sets Flo apart from the average athlete is the age at which she began exploring track and field: 60. Just a few years later, Meiler took up pole vaulting. She attributes her skill to a lifetime of water skiing, but she’s adhered to a rigorous workout schedule over the years to stay in shape. Now in her 80s, Flo Meiler is as fierce as ever.
Catch her in action in this interview from TODAY:
4. Nancy Burnham
The last news anyone wants to receive is that their heart has a problem. When Nancy Burnham discovered that she had two prolapsed heart valves, she decided to take action. At age 61, she stepped into a gym for the first time and set out to turn her health around. She did so in just one year, and she was certified as a personal trainer by age 65. Now in her 70s, this super star continues to help others transform their health.
Want to transform your own health? Be sure to pick up Burnham’s book:
5. Sister Madonna Buder
When most people hear the name Madonna, they think of a pop star from the 1980s… not a racing star in her 80s. However, Sister Madonna Buder is slowly redefining not only the name, but what it means to age with grace. This talented athlete was born in 1930, and she started running at age 47 under the encouragement of a priest. Oh, did I forget to mention that this athlete is also a nun? Sister Madonna Buder originally pursued running as a way to hone and harmonize her mind, body, and spirit, but in addition to inner peace… she found that she was particularly good at it. She’s now known as the Iron Nun, after attempting and completing the Ironman Triathlon on several occasions. This intensive race requires participants to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run in under 17 hours.
Want to get to know Buder’s secret? You just might find it in the pages of her book:
6. Yūichirō Miura
Yūichirō Miura is just like you and me… except he’s done something most people can only dream about. Ever heard of Mount Everest? The odds of dying while climbing it are particularly high for a young, healthy person. Miura, unphased by this statistic, became the oldest person to climb the mountain in 2003 at age 70. He underwent heart surgery in 2006 and 2007, and then he set out to beat his record again! In 2013, Miura was 80 when he ascended the world’s highest mountain. If that achievement wasn’t enough, you might be impressed to learn that this old school daredevil was also the first person to ski on Mount Everest in 1970.
Check out the post-adventure celebration from when 80 year old Miura returned home in this video by ODN:
7. Tao Porchon-Lynch
Yoga is a craze that’s sweeping the nation, but it undeniably has ancient roots. It was already an old art when Tao Porchon-Lynch discovered it in 1926 at just eight years of age. Porchon-Lynch was born on a boat in the English Channel in 1918, and she was actually initially scolded for taking interest in an art that was considered to be primarily meant for males. Being the world’s oldest yoga teacher isn’t even the most remarkable thing about this epic athlete; Porchon-Lynch also engaged in demonstrations alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
This video from the Associated Press shows just how talented this incredible athlete is:
8. Fauja Singh
Last but not least is the oldest athlete on our list: Fauja Singh. Singh was born in 1911. Yes, you read that right! Birth records were not kept in India at the time, So Singh has unfortunately been unable to receive recognition by setting a World Record, but this centenarian has proved that age is just a number. He purportedly was unable to walk until around five years of age due to weak muscles, but he found a passion for running as a young man. He fell out of the sport for several years, but he eventually returned to it at the young age of 89 years. Ever since, he’s been shocking athletes everywhere by continuing to run… and even race!
Check out this video the BBC created a few years ago to see him in action:
To some, aging is a depressing reality. After all, who wants to be old, feeble, and out of shape? The truth is that being “old” is a state of mind, and your physical fitness is in your hands. These incredible and inspirational senior athletes prove that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.
If you are on your own fitness journey, congratulations! Just remember to take everything step by step, and remember not to overdo it. If balance is an issue, consider exploring a stair lift solution or walk-in tub to ensure you don’t overdo it in your own home.