Boomers embrace fitness as the cornerstone of general well-being. To boomers, age is just an irrelevant number, and no matter where we fall on the boomer age line between 46 and 64, we know about enhancing longevity through healthy behaviors. Whole-life happiness is equal parts emotional wellbeing and physical health. The following superboomers exemplify how to live longer with a strong body and clear mind, and an active, full-tilt physical lifestyle as the key to a healthy and robust 100 years.
Superboomer Diana Nyad (born August 22, 1949) holds many long-distance swimming world records. For ten years (1969-1979), Diana was the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world. She broke numerous world records, including the 50-year-old mark for circling Manhattan Island (7 hrs 57 min.) in 1975. After her failed Cuba to Florida attempt in 1978, Nyad stroked her way to the longest swim in history for both men and women (102.5 miles) the following year, from the island of Bimini to the Florida shore. She is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986, the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003, and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Nyad had been away from swimming for 31 years, when one of life’s “oh no” moments struck. Her 60th birthday was fast approaching; she felt she still had “plenty of ‘chi’ left” but “something about turning 60 annoyed the heck” out of her, so Nyad began swimming again. One thing led to another and she began open water training to chase her life-long dream – to be the first person to swim the 103 miles from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage. According to Nyad, “we baby boomers…are far from irrelevant at 60…we are…emotionally mature, brimming with wisdom and calm, still physically strong.” She wanted to prove to other 60-year-olds that it’s never too late to chase a dream. She trained hard, assembled a fantastic team, the myriad details were all in place, but the Cuban visas didn’t come through! Her 60th birthday came and went. Undaunted, she vows to do this swim at 61 – “quit” doesn’t exist for her. In Greek mythology, the Naiads were a type of nymph who presided over water. We’d say Diana Nyad is well named! Her active professional life includes a weekly five-minute radio piece on sports for KCRW called The Score (heard during KCRW’s broadcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered”).
Another amazing boomer is Mark Martin, the professional NASCAR driver who is at the top of his game. One year ago, Martin won one of NASCAR’s toughest races at Darlington Raceway, the prestigious Southern 500, at the age of 50! Two weeks earlier, he’d won a Cup race in Phoenix. When Martin won at Phoenix on April 18, 2009, he became the oldest driver since 2005 to win a Cup race and the first 50-year-old to win since 1993! He is another of our impressive professional superboomer athletes who know how to balance mental and physical strength, which enables him to compete at the highest level of his sport. Martin is a fitness fanatic who works out every day. He is in better shape than nearly every NASCAR driver, including those half his age. He complements his regimen with a strict diet that keeps his body’s engine fine-tuned. Now 51, 40-time Sprint Cup winner Mark Martin is on course as the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet GoDaddy.com driver for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
We recognize and applaud notable superboomer records of all types, from first and best achievements, to extremes in the natural world and beyond. Nyad and Martin are phenomenal superboomers reinforcing the importance of action, motion and engagement to avoid a “long decline” to old age. For them, aging well doesn’t happen accidentally. Rather, it is the achievement of deliberate action to embrace longevity. Superboomer athletes like Nyad and Martin inspire us to start dreaming of larger physical and mental accomplishments. There really are no excuses.
We’d love to hear about other superboomers and how they inspire you to live well. It is never too late to start, but it’s always too soon to stop!