Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports
Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports
Sports Competition for Adults Over 40: A Participants Guide to 27 Sports

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These blogs are my personal, idiosyncratic observations about aging, training, and sports competition.

To access previous blogs, click "Read Other Blogs" at the bottom of this page.
A Skimpy 2018 - November 26, 2018
Delightful Mud - January 31, 2017
A Look Ahead at 2016 - January 13, 2016
Paddling in Torino -- World Masters Games 2013
Winning - May 11, 2012
Can Too Much Exercise Be Bad for Your Heart - March 11, 2011
The 60 Minute Crawl - January 30, 2011
Playing Tennis Again - October 6, 2010
Why Compete? (2) - June 15, 2010
LOST - May 24, 2010
Happy Birthday to Me - May 18, 2010
Why Compete?(1) - April 30, 2010
Val Barnwell - April 14, 2010
Spring Training Day - April 4, 2010
Becoming Bionic - March 24, 2010
The Divided Kingdom - February 4, 2010

The Divided Kingdom February 14, 2010

The Divided Kingdom

In her novel, The Children of Men, P.D. James imagines a world in which human beings can no longer reproduce. There are simply no more human births. Let's suppose that this unfortunate circumstance occurred 40 years ago, so that today our youngest citizens have just turned 40. We'll call this hypothetical national the "Grown-ups." What do the demographics of the Grown-Up United States look like?

Based on current demographic data, the over-40 U.S. population is approximately 136 million, about the same as the entire U.S. population in the early 1940's. There are about 6 percent more women than men. Twenty-eight percent of the Grown-Ups are over 65, roughly 38 million souls or about the entire U.S. population in 1870. The Grown-Ups have 81 thousand centenarians in their midst. Now let's look at how physically active our nation of Grown-Ups is.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), one of the nation's health monitors, recommends that every person engage in 30 minutes of moderate activity (activity that causes a moderate increase in heart rate) 5 times per week. That's two and a half hours of brisk walking, cycling, gardening, or similar activities. People doing anything less than this are termed either "Insufficient" (some kind of activity, but below the standard) or "inactive" (confirmed couch potatoes).

The CDC also publishes estimates of the percentage of the population that meets this recommended level of activity. These estimates announce two clear trends. First, for at least the past seven years, less than half the population of Grown-ups meets the CDC standard. Two and a half hours of moderate activity per week are just too much for the majority of Grown-Ups.

Second, as these citizens grow older, the level of activity declines rapidly. About 47 percent of those in their 40's meet the CDC standard, but for those over 65, the percentage drops below 40 percent. This means that something like 23 million Grown-ups over 65 are not getting enough exercise.

This decline in physically active adults is particularly sad in view of the overwhelming evidence that physical activity confers a cornucopia of benefits, particularly to aging adults, including increased strength, flexibility, and balance, greater disease resistance and a more positive mental and emotional outlook.

Before we sink too deeply into the Slough of Despond, let's take a quick look at the more vigorous segment of Grown-up nation, for Grown-ups is truly a divided kingdom. Begin with the 10,269 athletes that competed in the 2009 National Senior Games. All these competitors were over 50 and 770 of them were over 80. At the 2009 U.S. Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships, men and women in the age groups from 40 to 94 competed in 395 events. Some example of the more than 1,900 entries:
?ج? 15 men over 70 entered the 1500 meter run
?ج? 7 women over 70 raced in the 100 meter dash
?ج? 11 women over 40 competed in the pole vault
Keep in mind that behind the entries in these events are many hours of training. We can be pretty sure that training for a national championship like this would significantly exceed the CDC's recommendation for physical activity.

Next, the Ironman Triathlon is certainly one of the most demanding physical tests in the world -- 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run in blistering tropical heat. Of the 1,650 finishers of the 2008 Ironman, more than half (53%)were over 40. A total of 96 men and 21 women over 60 years old finished this grueling event.

These example may seem extreme -- that only physical freaks could manage to compete at this level. But, as you'll see in the pages of this website, the cohort of physically active Grown-Ups is large and growing. If you're among this group, congratulations and keep it up. If you're not, please come and join us.

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