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A walk in the mall, followed by the early bird special and a 7 p.m. bedtime. If this sounds like a typical night for someone 50+ to you, you’d be mistaken. Though many picture Millennials as the more active age group, Boomers and the rest of the over-50 crowd are true movers and shakers. In recent years, a few 50+ superstars have made headlines, inspiring Boomers to action as well as helping to create interest in this market from fitness and health advertisers.
Take Diana Nyad, the 65-year-old long distance swimmer. In 2013, Nyad made history when she became the first person to complete a swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. Though she’s accomplished a major goal, she’s not stopping there. Next year, Nyad has planned a walk across America to promote obesity awareness. Throughout her career, she’s emphasized the importance of pursuing your dreams – in this case, very physically challenging ones – no matter your age. One message Nyad gave reporters upon her completed swim? “You are never too old to chase your dreams.”
Or Warren Doyle, a Boomer hiker who has traversed the 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail an impressive 16 times. Doyle, 65, now runs the Appalachian Trail Institute, a hands-on program that educates wannabe Appalachian Trail completers on how best to hike (and finish) the trail. Doyle stresses that mental preparation is just as important as physical. He has found age can be an advantage rather than a disadvantage, giving hikers “discipline and an emotional strength.”
America’s national pastime isn’t without Boomers, either – now retired pitcher Jamie Moyer was the oldest pitcher at the time of his last game in 2012. Moyer played for Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and the Colorado Rockies – among other teams.
And for the post-baby Boomer crowd, there’s Marjorie Templeton, the octogenarian sixth-degree black belt who opened her own taekwondo school in Ohio.
If these sports stars are any indication, fitness and health are a 50+ priority, and research has numbers that prove it. 2014 MRI research says that 9 in 10 50+ adults say their health and staying active is a top priority. What’s more, 62 million 50+ adults exercise or play sports regularly.
Rather than focus exclusively on younger bodies, the fitness industry would benefit greatly from adding older adults to their focus, since they show no signs of slowing down.