Just before the Chicago Marathon, I saw the video posted with this blog. The first part is about gender stereotypes. But a little later on, it addresses an important issue that affects all genders; age stereotyping.
Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and has demonstrated that a female stereotype, that women aren’t capable of running 26 miles, is fallacious. Now at 70 she’s still running in marathons and credibly adding another stereotype to the list of fallacies; the one that says that people over 40 can’t compete in sporting events.
I remember telling younger friend that I, at age 61, had just entered my first triathlon. He looked at me for a moment and didn’t say anything right away. Behind his eyes, though, I could swear I saw his thoughts swirl, trying to find something to send to his mouth that didn’t sound too discouraging. What came out was, “Don’t overdo it, dude.” Most people act similarly when I tell them I race.
And why wouldn’t they? Companies tell us all the time through their commercials that we baby boomers are stupid, stubborn and self-absorbed. The only commercials that portray us in a positive light are the ED medication commercials and the actors used don’t really look old. TV shows portray us as people who can’t and are unwilling to learn and certainly can’t use technology. The other day there was a McDonald’s commercial that portrayed grandmothers as lazy, millennial hating gossips.
I was at Life Time Fitness one day and on one of the TVs there was a show on from the70s. A woman was demonstrating exercises that a 60-year-old should do. She sat on a chair and using her butt muscles inched around the chair’s perimeter. At 62, I routinely run 6 miles, swim two and bike for 20 or more for workouts
The sad thing is that too many boomers believe that crap. They believe they are too old to get in shape and that idea spreads like a cancer to other parts of their lives. I know many boomers who believe they can’t learn new things or change careers.
The truth is that there are no age limits on our activities. Yes, it’s true that there is an overall decline in physical ability and it also true that getting and staying in shape is harder as we age. The natural aging process can be slowed down by applying our experience, wisdom and our ability to endure. And chances are that if you can stay physically active your mental abilities will stay sharp too.
Listen to Ms. Switzer in the video. She certainly doesn’t look or act 70.
So, you can live a better life by forgetting the stereotypes by getting active again. Don’t stop until you can’t do it any more.