Age Is Just a Number

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I’ve read the second book with this title. A few years ago I read the first, by 12 time Olympic medalist, Dara Torres. She was 41 when she won her silver medal in the 50 meters in 2008 (and also in the 4×100 relay), which was amazing for a sprinter, and it made her the oldest swimmer to win a medal in Olympic history.This is a good inspirational read.

The second book shows age continues to be just a number for decades longer. Charles Eugster, who is 97, took up bodybuilding at 85! He is an amateur athlete who was a dentist and ran a successful dental periodical in Switzerland, and now is an inspirational speaker as well as author.

His athletic story is interesting. He was an avid rower for decades, until his early 80s. For a long time he was quite sought after in age group crews, because the rules in Switzerland allow all crew members to race in the age group of the oldest member of the crew, and he happened to be a competent older rower. But towards the end he felt his abilities were waning. He also was losing muscle mass, despite the fact that rowing uses a lot of muscle groups. That is what motivated him to start bodybuilding at age 85, instead of accepting the “inevitable” declines of aging. I had read scientific studies of older populations doing resistance training with good results, but for Charles the results were remarkable. He has continued to do well health-wise and fitness-wise, now into is late 90s, and is an age-group world record holder in the 200m and 400m sprints.

I am an unabashed fan of active aging, but I must admit to having doubt in the back of my mind about what happens when we get much older. Will age-related decline eventually overcome efforts to stave it off? This story says it doesn’t have to, even into your 90s and beyond.