Olympic-Level Senior Athletes: Sharper Bodies, Sharper Minds?

May 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

This August, nearly 13,000 athletes will gather for an Olympics style competition.  They’ve trained hard, fought their way up through trials at the local, state and national level,  competed in traditional events of the Olympics, including swimming, track & field, and equestrian events. There’s even a winter version of the games, with events including slalom and cross country skiing.

The difference between this, and other sports competitions? The ages of the athletes: every single one of them is over 50 years old. 

It’s called the National Senior Games, and the competition age brackets allow for those up to age 94(!) to participate.  And this is not some wimpy, patronizing, pat-you-on-the-head-for-trying sort of game – one look at these folk’s  form is enough to convince you they’re world quality competitors.

Check this out:

Research has repeatedly shown the promise of physical activity in reducing the risks of age-related mental declines, from ordinary “senior moments” to Alzheimer’s.  To date, no  cognitive studies appear to have been done on the athletes of the National Senior Games, but it’s a pretty safe bet that they’d score well above the norm, with much lower rates of dementia and other difficulty appearing even in the higher age brackets.

Former athletes sometimes have trouble in their older years; they may feel they can no longer compete, and  that without the events that defined them, their purpose is gone, and they withdraw.  These games gives them a way to stay involved and engaged, as well as encouraging newer competitors to get in shape, be socially active and get involved – another of the keys to a healthy mind, including Alzheimer’s prevention.

It’s Never Too Late To Start.

For a dramatic example of never-being-too-old-or-out-of-shape, check out this year’s big winners on reality series “The Biggest Loser”:

Winner Helen, at age 48 is not quite a qualifier for the Senior Games, but still, she is no spring chick. Yet she lost over 140 lbs and ran a marathon to beat much younger participants.

And even more impressively, 63 year old Jerry bested his 20 something competitors even though he went home in the second week –  transforming himself into an senior athlete without the help of the celebrity  trainers and nutritionists on the show.  His wife (also 63) also did impressively well.

Think we’ll see these three in the National Senior Games sometime soon?

For more information on the NSGA, check out these websites:

2009 NSGA Official Site:  2009 Senior Games
More Info and History:  About The National Senior Games Association Foundation
Getting Involved: State by State Listing

And whether you decide to compete or not, consider the example these folks all set for being involved, overcoming cultural stereotypes, and maintaining an active, involved, healthy mind, spirit and body through their involvement.

Entry filed under: Be Physically Active!. Tags: , , , .

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About This Blog


A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness

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