WELLNESS

Senior fitness junkies living proof 'you're never too old' to live your best life

Fitness doesn't have to stop as you get older. There are plenty of senior fitness junkies keeping fit and pushing themselves to great heights. Picture: Shutterstock.
Fitness doesn't have to stop as you get older. There are plenty of senior fitness junkies keeping fit and pushing themselves to great heights. Picture: Shutterstock.

Question: do you plan to keep exercising into your senior years?

Depends on my creaky knees. I love my running, but I guess it can't last forever. Maybe I'll take up bridge or bingo instead.

Trash that thought right now - and allow me to introduce you to the awesomeness of Diane "Flash" Friedman (not pictured).

She doesn't sound like a bridge kind of gal.

Not unless you're talking about the sort you sprint across during a high-speed road race. Diane is 100 years old, and she's the world's fastest woman over 100. This year she broke world records in the 100-metre sprint and 200-metre sprint for the 100 to 104-year-old age group. She also broke the US javelin record in the same age category.

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Wow. How fast is she?

Diane ran the 100 metres this year in 36 seconds. That's three seconds faster than the previous record holder, her archrival and fellow American, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins, who's 105.

And there I was, worrying about fitness after 50. I'm officially inspired.

You can find amazing older athletes everywhere.

Also in America, there's Sister Madonna Buder, the "Iron Nun", who entered her first triathlon at 52 and is still competing at 91. Or the 88-year-old Japanese alpinist, Yuichiro Miura, who at 70 became the oldest person to summit Mount Everest - then did it again at 80. The badass grandpa is currently planning to ski down another massive Himalayan peak. And 81-year-old New York Crossfit legend Jacinto Bonilla, whose gruelling workouts of the day can crush a gym junkie half his age.

Forget twenty-something fitness influencers. These seniors are serious gurus. Are there any closer to home? I want to seek their knowledge.

In Sydney, there's the remarkable Michael Wilkinson, a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor and Pilates teacher. He's a vigorous 80, and living proof you can kick fitness goals throughout your entire life.

Do these seniors have a secret?

They're all healthy eaters and lifelong exercisers, but mainly it's attitude. They just decided not to stop. And they defy the outdated belief that you can't increase your fitness and flexibility after a certain age.

I'm suddenly feeling younger, energetic and ready for my run. I want to win again!

Just don't try to beat the Iron Nun.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.

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This story Fitness after fifty has never looked so inspiring first appeared on The Canberra Times.