Charles Eugster was a dentist for most of his working life. On retiring, Charles decided to begin exercising more, from gym work to rowing to athletics. Now 96, Charles is the fastest man over 200 metres in the 95+ age category.

Helen Frith competed in the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games and to this day continues to compete in Masters Athletics. Her mum, Ruth, whom Helen lived with before Ruth passed away aged 104, would join her and the fellow athletes down at the Masters track each week, sit down and ‘mind the bags’.

One day, at the tender age of 73, Ruth remarked, ‘I’ve had enough of being the bag lady’, and decided to take up athletics. From shot-put and discus to javelin and hammer throwing, Ruth Frith put her heart and soul into whatever she could.

More than a quarter of a century later you would still find Ruth exercising six days per week (three days lifting weights and three days at the track), winning gold medals, travelling the world and living as though she were 25.

Scan the world and you’ll find yoga instructors in their 90s. Head down to The Pass or Wategos and you’ll see surfers and swimmers defying any ageism that exists in society; visit any Masters Athletics track meet and see scores of living legends doing what many believe ‘can’t be done at that age.’

While society continues to become more scared by the day of ‘growing older’, the ‘growing bolder’ movement is gaining momentum at a rapid rate.

Not content to settle for ‘old age’ excuses, people who move regularly are living proof of what research is showing. Namely that regular exercise:

  • is a great preventer of dementia and brain-related disease
  • helps prevent falls
  • improves your mood, self-esteem and self-confidence
  • •improves heart function and immune function.

In a Harvard University study of more than 50,000 past students covering more than two million years of human life, the overwhelming conclusion reached was that the more active an individual, the longer they lived. According to head researcher Dr Ralph Paffenbarger, ‘If you become and remain active, you will not only live longer, you’ll live better, look better, and feel better about yourself. You will have more vitality, you’ll think more clearly and you’ll sleep better. You’ll function better, and be more productive, creative and joyful.’

In short, research is showing more and more that regular exercise improves just about every area of life. On top of that, combining exercise with socialising is a great way to create more accountability and more friendships.

As longevity doctor Wally Bortz says, ‘Never too late to start; always too early to stop.’

Take advantage of the many health providers in the Byron Shire who offer both personalised and group exercise regimes. From yoga and surfing, to Pilates, Crossfit and everything in between. The Byron Shire is a wonderful playground to stay active in.

– Marcus Pearce