There is a wildly pervasive concept that once you turn 50, game over. Don’t bother working out—it’s not worth it, and you’re only going to hurt yourself. Instead of working out, go for a walk! Take up gardening!
I could go on for days about how much working out has done for me as a 56-year-old. But, I thought it would be far more effective to let the success of older athletes speak for itself.
Let’s start with Jacinto Bonilla. Bonilla is the oldest athlete to compete in the CrossFit games. At 73 years old, he competed in the 2012 Games in the 60+ men’s division, and finished in 17th place—ahead of men 13 years his junior. Bonilla started doing CrossFit at 67 years old; he turned 81 this year and is the owner and head coach at CrossFit 1939, named for the year he was born.
He is an amazing athlete and an incredible inspiration. Learn more about his story here.
Looking to run a marathon? Use Fauja Singh as your inspiration. In 2003, at the age of 92, Singh ran a full marathon in 5 hours and 40 minutes. And, he didn’t stop there; Singh continued to run marathons until he was 101. Today, at 109 years old, while he doesn’t run any more, Singh walks at least five miles every day. Read more about him here.
How about other sports? In 2013, at 64 years old, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim without the aid of a shark cage from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida—111 miles—in fifty-three hours. Last year, Betty Goedhart—age 85—was named the oldest trapeze artist in the world by Guinness World Records, after grabbing a trapeze bar for the very first time on her 78th birthday.
And, finally, there’s Olga Kotelko. While she is no longer with us, Kotelko held more than 30 world records, won more than 750 gold medals in her age category (age 90-95) in Track & Field, and is still considered one of the world’s greatest athletes.
As for the concept that working out at an older age can hurt you? According to her Wikipedia page, Kotelko’s physiology and muscle tissue have been studied by multiple doctors. Her muscle fibers at age 91 were found to be remarkably lacking in the mitochondrial decay expected in someone over 65.
There are countless examples of older athletes breaking records and continuing to push into their 90s and beyond. A quick Google search will keep you busy for hours
So, back to our original question: Am I too old for this? Oh, HELL no. Not by a long shot. Get to it! Time’s a-waistin’.