Aging and Activity

Patricia, Central Park West, NYC November 2014

Patricia, Central Park West, NYC November 2014

"Older, Faster, Stronger," by Margaret Webb, is a book about masters age women athletes from their forties to nineties+. How do these fit, healthy, strong women athletes, in particular, runners, find the time, the inspiration, the strength to run and keep on running into very old age? This in a time when many more women are running but also when too many women—and men—are sedentary, obese, suffering chronic illnesses? This book explores one woman’s goal to become "super-fit" and run the masters world championship half marathon in Turin, Italy. She asks the right questions and poses challenges to our traditional way of thinking about aging and activity. Many issues are ones I consider as I try to continue to run, to bicycle, to swim, to do Pilates, to move, sometimes as if an outlier at my age doing these things. Webb demsytifies the practice required, the nutrition (yes, Paleo+), the impact of estrogen loss as women age, the different caloric needs of women v. men, the opportunities to break records; but also the lack of attention to masters class athletes, those talented, dedicated, compassionate women and men, who break barriers because they love to move, to remain active, to be joyous.

I look forward to being more pro-active in my learning of aging from an active person’s perspective. We don’t have to become another stereotype that “I’m getting older so that’s why this is happening TO me.” We should live our lives so that we control how we confront and embrace each new birthday (as one friend so kindly described getting older), making sure that each year is better than the one before.

I am inspired to climb fourteeners, to once again run a half marathon, to once again bicycle metric centuries (even if I can’t do a full century), to swim miles (well, at least one mile) in the open water, to celebrate this life with joy and movement—until I can no longer do so.