In the world of sports, age is often seen as a limiting factor. However, some athletes, like Hiroo Tanaka, are defying this notion and rewriting the age norms.
These extraordinary individuals are proving that age is just a number when it comes to achieving fitness goals and setting records.
Hiroo Tanaka: Breaking Records at 92
Japanese track and field athlete Hiroo Tanaka is proving that age is no barrier to athletic prowess. At the remarkable age of 92, Tanaka smashed the M90 world 200m record with an incredible time of 38.79 at the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships – Torun 2023 last month. Tanaka is also a relay record holder as he and his four teammates in Japan, all in their 90s, set records in the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter races for men aged between 90 and 94. His record-breaking feat is a testament to his unwavering dedication to fitness, challenging the stereotypes often associated with ageing.
The Growing Ranks of Senior Athletes
Hiroo Tanaka’s recent achievement adds him to a growing list of senior athletes who are shattering age barriers. Other inspiring figures include Fauja Singh, known as the ‘Turbaned Tornado’, who completed a marathon at 100, and Madonna Buder, the ‘Iron Nun’, who completed an Ironman triathlon at 82.
These athletes are setting powerful examples and inspiring a generation of older adults to embrace physical fitness as a vital part of healthy ageing.
Exercise for the Elderly: Strength, Cardio and Flexibility Training
While not everyone aspires to break records like Hiroo Tanaka, regular exercise can significantly enhance health and quality of life in older age. Strength, cardio and flexibility training all play a critical role in maintaining and improving physical fitness.
- Start Slowly: Commence with lighter weights or bodyweight exercises, gradually increasing the intensity as your strength improves.
- Prioritise Form: To prevent injuries, correct form is crucial. It might be beneficial to work initially with a trainer to ensure you’re performing exercises correctly.
- Include All Major Muscle Groups: Your routine should include exercises that target all the major muscle groups for a balanced workout.
- Choose Low-Impact Activities: Opt for low-impact activities that are easy on the joints, such as walking, cycling, swimming, or water aerobics.
- Listen to Your Body: Always pace yourself and avoid pushing too hard. If you feel breathless or dizzy, slow down or take a break.
- Make it Regular: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise per week, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
- Include Stretching Exercises: Stretching exercises can enhance your flexibility, improve your range of motion, and reduce the risk of injury.
- Try Yoga or Pilates: Both Yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility, balance, and strength. They are low-impact and can be adapted for various fitness levels.
Conclusion: Ageing Gracefully with Fitness
The inspiring feats of Hiroo Tanaka and other senior athletes show us that age is no barrier to physical achievement. Any older adult can enjoy the benefits of strength and cardio training, regardless of their fitness level. Remember, it’s never too late to start, and every step taken towards fitness counts in the journey of healthy ageing.