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Update on the Strong, Healthy Lives of Boomer Athletes

by Don

Just last week Linda Quirk, who I interviewed and feature in my book, completed the first leg of her 4-deserts odyssey. You can stay up with her updates on her blog run7on7.

Linda Quirk During her 2009 7 Marathons on 7 Continents Adventure

Linda Quirk During her 2009 7 Marathons on 7 Continents Adventure

It is really great to shift gears now that my book is out and see reviews as they come in. The following are excerpts of independent reviews and so far I am pleased with what people think.

5.0 out of 5 starsExistence proofs that people can be competitive athletes well into their seventies

March 8, 2010

By Charles Ashbacher on

Fortunately, while people are generally living longer, there has not been as significant a corresponding decline in the quality of that life. The extra years are generally not spent in a state of weakness that has some percentage of being an invalid. This fact is common knowledge, what is not so well known is that many people can remain athletically competitive over the age of fifty, sometimes decades over. This book is a case study of fifty such people.
Granted, there has been some “cherry-picking” of the representatives, but that does not change the fact that it is proven that it is possible for humans to remain active to the point of being athletic several decades after hitting their fiftieth birthday. Some of these people even had to overcome serious injuries from auto and other accidents. The overwhelming message from the acts of these people is that determination is generally more important that the physical aspects of your body. In chapter 10, Dr. Vonda Wright M. D. makes statistical arguments to support the position that “Only 30% of how we age is determined by genetics, while the remaining 70% is determined by the lifestyle choices we make.” Furthermore, Wright also uses data supporting the point that, “Masters athletes’ performance declined less than 2% a year for both men and women from age 50 to 75. Then, after the age of 75, something else happened. Their performance suddenly dropped by 8% a year.”
These statistics point out that it is not only possible to remain extremely active after the age of fifty, but something that should be done. While it is true that not everyone can remain as active and competitive as the 50 portrayed here, together they are an existence proof that it is possible. Even old dogs need role models, and these are some very good ones.

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb motivation in hard cover, even better on the iPhone for Kindle

March 5, 2010

By Robert C. Ross on

Wine is one of the joys of my life, and I enjoy it in two different ways: first, going to a large “tasting” for a couple of hours, say one with 50 different wine lovers and 50 different wines; and second, spending an hour or two with a single wine, sipping and watching it develop over time. Each event provides different types of pleasures, but each is highly rewarding.

This is a wonderfully motivating book for an OF like me, who tries, sometimes successfully [ 🙂 ], to keep in shape, primarily by walking and hiking in the hills near my home in the Ramapo Mountains. Don McGrath has put together an outstanding collection devoted to 50 different athletes who are committed to maintaining their health through exercise.

Reading the book straight through is like my large wine tastings: there’s a kaleidoscope of impressions: some people stand out and their techniques and approaches resonate in many ways for me. Others sunk into the background and didn’t have much to say of importance to me. But, taken together, it was an exciting and rewarding “event”, especially under McGrath’s leadership.

McGrath makes an important point early on: it was empowering to read that he refers interchangeably to “athletes as people who exercise, and people who participate in a sport.” He makes a very strong case for consistent, regular exercise, relying on a number of studies demonstrating the benefits. And, this is clear, compelling writing, from an author who is clearly enthusiastic and committed to his subject:

“My goal in writing the book was to learn how to stay active and successful in my sport, rock climbing, for as long as possible. Along the way, I discovered that the athletes I was interviewing had a much more important tale to tell. They are all living spectacularly strong, healthy lives….

But, you can get lost in a big wine tasting, and in a certain way, I did with this book — there is just so much you can remember about any one person when there are so many fascinating people, and people who can help you deal with your own personal challenges — in my case, lack of time, other commitments and personal motivation.

Putting the book on my iPhone was a wonderful discovery. I’ve always got the phone with me, and I’ve been reading about one of the 50 athletes before, during and after each of my hour long hikes. Even athletes I sort of skipped over during the first “read through” suddenly become much more interesting when I spend an hour with them, especially when I’m doing some of the same striving they did, and are still doing. (I’ve often had the same experience with wine — not thinking much of a wine during the big tasting, but discovering interesting depths and real excitement when I spend an hour sipping and analyzing.)

I understand that McGrath plans to make this book audio edited and made available in iTunes. I can imagine that an audio version would be excellent for motivation during a hike, and I hope McGrath follows through with his plans to do so. In the meantime, however, reading about McGrath’s suggestions, and the suggestions of the 50 interesting people he’s collected here, has greatly enhanced my exercising during my rest periods.

It’s clear that consistent, vigorous exercise is a splendid idea for OF like me. This excellent book is a superb aid to achieving that goal.

Robert C. Ross 2010

Note: this review is based on a review copy furnished by the author. I found it so useful, that I purchased a copy for my Kindle, to use before, during and after my hikes. B.

Review By Koach Karl on Basil and Spice

Do you make excuses not to workout?  Are you over weight?  Has your doctor advised you to exercise?  Is it too late?!  Not by a long shot!!  As author Don McGrath leads us through 50 interviews with 50 athletes over 50 we realize that it’s never too late.  Most importantly anyone can excel in sports regardless ofage, gender, handicap or circumstances.  These stories will inspire you to get off the couch and get moving.  If you are currently exercising you will find yourself asking “Am I doing enough?”  All of these athletes are competitive in their own ways.  From 50-year-old former pro triathlete Gale Bernhardt who has turned her sights to mountain biking to “The Ultimate Over 50-Athlete — Banana” George Blair, the 94-year-old water skier, you will see that anything is possible.

McGrath first leads us through his Performance-to-Lifestyle Transition Phases and the keys behind it.  Dream it, Live it and Love it.  From there he explains the Four Joys and how they help the older athlete stay focused and motivated to not only stay active but to stay competitive in their chosen sport.  He wraps things up with the last two chapters focusing on the studies and statistics of older athletes–the physiology and psychology of the athlete over 50 and what happens as we age.

All of the interviews were interesting and moving in their own way.  You will read about track athletes, swimmers, rock climbers–the list goes on and on.  Gene GeBauer, a dancer, seemed full of life and not planning to stop dancing anytime soon.  He is 75 and just recently had a tap jam session with one of the world’s best, Jason Samuel Smith, and held his own.  Then you have of course “Banana” George Blair he 94 year old skier who did he start skiing until he was 46.  Since the he has become a phenomenon in the skiing world.  “Banana” George not only skies, he took up wakeboarding at 70, snowboarding at 75, race car driving at 81, skydiving at 82, surfing at 83, and he rode a bull at 85.  This man can do anything he puts his mind to!!  My favorite though is 53-year-old Terry Peterson from Redondo Beach, CA who in his late forties had gained weight and had high cholesterol and needed to exercise.  None of the normal stuff seemed to inspire him–such as swimming, biking or running.  He fond his passion at   Terry is now a sponsored and competitive rider with Mountain Unicycling (MUni).  You can see more of Terry and what he does at his site Checkout the videos! They are amazing.

This book was fun and inspiring no matter where you are in life, whether it’s 8-years-old or 80, I encourage you to pick it up at your local book store.  Who knows, maybe you will be in the revised edition.

Teresa Konopka’s Book Review Blog

“50 Athletes over 50 Teach Us to Live a Strong, Healthy Life” by DonMcGrath, PhD is a great book. It has a wonderful format that quickly introduces readers to what it takes to be an older athlete mentally, physically, and emotionally. Then, it dives right into the excitement with the 50 athletes over 50. There are copious interviews that are written in a question-and-answer layout. Photos of the athletes are included, too, some of which are whimsically amusing. At the end of chapters, there are even questions for the reader to answer with spaces to write in. These questions serve as stepping stones for the reader to get more active and rekindle their inner athletic passions. What makes this book so great is that the 50 athletes are not all famous and well-known. Chances are the readers may have not even heard of one. Still, this makes the book more riveting as readers discover new stories that could be about them some day. Most of the athletes in this book do not do group sports, but the athletic endeavors will impress nonetheless. Athletes of all ages will enjoy this book.

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