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Re: Senior athletes find health, competitive benefits in endurance sports

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We get all kinds of comments about how many hours and how hard we go at our training. Some people tell us to slow down, many encourage us, some register disbelief that it is fun and rewarding to sweat like we do, others ridicule senior athletes in general, but I tell ya what: those poking fun are not the same ones we see at the starting line. In fact, the more encouraging and positive they are, the more likely it is that we will see them on a podium. That's our experience so far, anyway. Smiley Happy



"The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." Julius Erving
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Senior athletes find health, competitive benefits in endurance sports

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Sun Sentinal Story from November 2016. This piece talks more about extreme (endurance) sports and senior athletes, as well as lets the athletes talk about their approaches and expereinces with arresting aging through physical activity.


Follow the link to watch the truly inspiring video:


Dr. Bob Willix already stands out as an exception as he prepares, at age 75, to compete in an Ironman triathlon this weekend for the first time in 32 years.


Then he demonstrates the extent to which he has defied aging through fitness training by leaping out of his chair and assuming the position of a baseball catcher and remaining in the classic squat pose as if awaiting a pitch.


"At this stage a lot of people my age have problems with their joints. They can't get out of a chair because they don't have quadriceps strength, they can't do an air squat, they can't bend down below 90 degrees and hold that position," the Boca Raton anti-aging practitioner says while demonstrating the difference. "I have no problems. I have great sleep. I have boundless energy."


Much like Cecilia McCloskey, who at 66 recently surpassed world records in her age group for three backstroke events while helping Swim Fort Lauderdale to the team championship in the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals. She already held the record at each distance and has set several other world and national age-group marks in the past couple of years.


"I like the feeling of power, which swimming gives you, and I can't disqualify the fact that I'm healthy," says McCloskey, whose husband Jack is an orthopedic surgeon. "I see so many people — and he sees patients all day — that are my age that are falling apart. My husband said at 66 I move like a 45-year-old."


Willix and McCloskey are among many examples of senior-level athletes reaping health benefits while achieving at a high level in competition.


However, the physical fitness revolution has a flipside as well that has yielded cautionary tales as Baby Boomer athletes continue to pursue competitive goals with the same vigor as they were indoctrinated with in school by John F. Kennedy's Council on Physical Fitness more than a half century ago.


At least eight scientific studies during the past 10 years have presented evidence that participation in endurance events over an extended period of time may damage the heart.


Among them, a 2011 study of runners who had completed 100 or more marathons which showed that half of the group — those who had trained the longest and hardest — had heart muscle scarring. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, has been cited in explaining how Alberto Salazar, one of America's greatest marathoners, nearly died from a heart attack at the age of 49.


Also fitting that profile was Ernie Chatman, a prominent former high school cross country coach in Central Florida, age 66 with more than 100 marathons to his credit, who died of heart failure after a routine training run this summer. That occurred less than a year after he ended a streak of running at least one mile (and usually more) for 8,814 consecutive days.


Findings in the various studies claiming health risks for endurance athletes have not been universally accepted, nor have they stemmed enthusiasm of marathon and Ironman participants.


Dr. Dermot Phelan, director of the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic, writes on the clinic's website that care should be taken in interpreting these results, stating, "While there is emerging evidence that prolonged strenuous exercise can increase risk of atrial fibrillation, the long-term risk of this is small compared to inactivity."


Read the rest of the article a the link above.


"The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." Julius Erving
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