One of our favorite events for active agers is back for the first time since 2019. We love the National Senior Games because of the boundless inspiration they offer everyone, regardless of age or fitness level.
Thousands of people will gather in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to compete in track and field events, plus softball, tennis, pickleball, swimming, and more.
Some are well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. The oldest at the last event in 2019 was 103!
Some athletes have been active their entire lives and see no reason to let age slow them down. Others are relatively new to fitness and exercise. And many overcame injury or illness to be strong enough to compete.
With family and friends in tow, they support each other, make friendships, and build community – proving yet again the valuable social aspects of physical activity.
Here are just a few athletes from across the country. We hope their stories inspire you to get fit, stay fit and enjoy living your life to the fullest at every age.
Pat Kelly, 62, running in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races
Racing brings simple joy, she says. “I feel like a 10-year-old again, you know, not thinking about anything else in the world, just running a race,” Pat says. “I love that feeling. That escapism.”
She loves the training, too. “It’s a feeling that is deep down. It brings me great joy to be able to do it. And I have a great appreciation that I’m able to do it.”
Dick Johnson, 81, Pickleball
After 10 or 20 years of inactivity, Dick had grown overweight and developed diabetes. Then he found the popular game with the weird name.
“Pickleball saved my life,” Dick says. “Physically, it’s getting harder and I can’t play every day like I used to. But everybody’s got their stuff. That’s what happens at our age. The way I look at it the pain is worth it because if I wasn’t playing I wouldn’t be as healthy and I wouldn’t be living as long.”
Flo Meiler, 87, Track and Field
“I am surprising myself,” Flo says. “I still can’t believe I’m doing the pole vault when I’ll be 88 in June.”
But she never forgets why: “It’s all so much fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
Flo trains six days a week, including twice a week on weight machines, and she plays tennis with friends.
What do you think?
Even if you don’t want to be this ambitious, don’t these stories make you want to stay strong and independent for as long as possible? Doesn’t it seem like the fun way to get older?
We agree! We can help you find your own fun, healthy way to stay strong and independent, too.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.