“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe
Physical health is a bedrock for wellness. You may think that exceptionally fit people are qualitatively different from you. Maybe they are younger, or have more time, or better genes, or fewer physical maladies than you. The truth is, superior fitness is accessible to most of us. We all get the same 24 hour day. Genes are rarely a legitimate barrier to attaining phenomenal physical conditioning. And as for the health problems, you don't become an aging hero without taking some hard knocks. Erica and I are not exceptions. Here are a few of our issues.
Deformed vertebrae from a motorcycle accident
A missing tendon in one calf from an old injury
Chronic injuries in both hips and knees
Chronic injury to left foot
TIME IS NOT AN OBSTACLE!
Urige Buta (left), the Norwegian champion marathon runner, also worked as a janitor 10 hours a day to provide for his wife and young child. If you haven’t trained for a marathon, you can’t possibly appreciate Mr. Buta’s amazing feat. Marathon training requires running for hours most days, followed by periods of extreme exhaustion. Working 10-hour shifts while training for marathons is incomprehensible!
Before achieving fame and fortune as an actress and the biggest name in mixed martial arts, Rhonda Rousey (below) worked three bar-tending jobs at once while also training and competing in the MMA. Rhonda Rousey not only achieved success in a sport formerly dominated by men, but she also advanced the sport more than any athlete, male or female!
A recent study found that busyness improves the brain. Busy people were found to have "better processing speed, working memory, episodic memory, reasoning, and crystallized intelligence" than their less engaged counterparts. In the same way that working the body improves physical performance, working the brain enhances its abilities.
AGE IS NOT AN OBSTACLE!
Tamae Watanabe was 63 when she broke the world record as the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest. At 73, she scaled Everest again and broke her own record! Climbing Mt Everest represents a capstone achievement for most climbers regardless of their age. For Tamae Wantabe to do it twice and break the age barrier both times is beyond incredible!
Sixty-eight-year-old Cathy Skott (below) rode her recumbent bicycle from Miami to Maine with Myron, her husband of forty years. They averaged biking 50 to 60 miles per day during the trips. In less than two months, she completed the 2300 mile trek!
Ernestine Shepherd (below) was overweight and suffered from depression, panic attacks, high blood pressure, and GERD. She and her sister started working out when Ernestine was age 56. She said, “Instead of lamenting about our bodies, we decided to make a change, get into shape and become the best version of ourselves.” Through exercise and diet, Ernestine was able to stop taking medications for her health problems. She became a competitive bodybuilder and competed until age 80. After winning many titles, she retired as the world's oldest female bodybuilder. Now in her mid-eighties, Ernestine continues strength training for 45 minutes to an hour 4 times per week and she runs 10 miles every morning!
Many of the conditions considered to be caused by aging are related in large part to disuse. Exercise improves every aspect of heart and circulatory function, increases bone density, improves muscle mass and strength, improves metabolism, decreases body fat, regulates insulin and blood sugar levels, decreases bad cholesterol, increases good cholesterol, improves the quality of sleep, and decreases depression and memory lapses. Exercise decreases the risks for stroke, heart disease, and even cancer! HEALTH ISSUES ARE NOT OBSTACLES Swimmer, Eric Shanteau (below), won an Olympic medal for breaststroke in the 2004 Olympics. He then competed in the 2008 Olympics two weeks after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Eric had chemotherapy after competing and was cancer-free before the year was out and won Olympic gold in the swimming relay in 2012.
Despite pain and fatigue caused by the autoimmune disease, lupus, Shannon Box is a three-time Olympic gold medal winner and a highly decorated player in US women's soccer. After suffering for years, Shannon went public about her condition before the 2012 Olympics where she helped her team win the gold. She continued to compete until 2015 and retired at age 35 after her team won the World Cup.
With chronic Crohn's disease, Carrie Johnson (below) competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics in the 200 and 500-meter kayak events. She then won gold in the 2012 Pan American Games. She was the first person to qualify for her event for the 2012 Olympic Team. Carrie is quoted as saying, “Falling in life is unavoidable. Staying down is optional.”