The Power of Self-Belief by Robin Trimingham
This June will mark the 30th anniversary of the National Senior Games in the United States. This biennial event will be held in Birmingham, Alabama and is open to competitors over the age of 50. Qualified entrants first enter State competitions to win the right to compete in a wide variety of individual team sports at this national event including: archery, badminton, basketball, bowling, cycling, golf, horseshoes, pickleball, race walking, racquetball, distance running, shuttle board, softball, swimming, table tennis, tennis, track and field, triathlon, and volleyball.
My personal favorites are the swimming category, which features an age category for 65-100-year-olds and the hotly contested volleyball category which has a category for teams composed of participants aged 75 and older.
Imagine your own grandfather receiving a spike set at the net for a moment and you will realize just how much the world has changed over the last few decades. Where these people once encouraged their children to compete in sports, their adult offspring are now encouraging their senior parents to compete.
But what has caused this radical improvement in old age agility? Is this simply due to medical advances in healthcare, or is it something more?
Certainly, the people who compete in these games are in top physical condition for their age, but it seems that their greatest competitive edge just might be their positive attitude.
According to some athlete profiles that appeared in Furthermore, by Equinox, simply believing that you can keep moving and challenging yourself to be your best will go a long way toward landing yourself a spot on the podium.
In the words of one 88 year old runner, “The mailbox is about 100 meters from the house, so I don’t walk to the mailbox. I run.”
Another entrant confided, “When I first saw the list of events [back in November 2002], I said to myself, ‘Oh my god, I’ve never done any of this! … A voice said to me, ‘You can do this.’ So, I’ve learned to listen to the soft voice now that speaks to you because that voice normally is the right voice to listen to.”
Needless to say, we can’t stop our bodies from aging; but these people are showing us that our bodies can perform much better than most of us were raised to believe. We can be strong and active and healthy for many years but it is up to us to decide to keep our bodies agile and moving. Granted, not all of us will be competing in the triathlon when we are 90, but a strong body is a steadier body is less prone to falls and the debilitating injuries that can rob us of our independence.
The secret is to believe that you can challenge your body to new things at any age. Just talk to your doctor or chosen healthcare professional before embarking on any new exercise schedule and then pace yourself and build up your strength slowly.
By Robin Trimingham