Staying in shape plays a vital role in a person’s overall level of health and well-being at any and every age!
But for those of us in our 60s and beyond, staying in shape is especially important.
Unfortunately, knowing the importance of staying in shape in our 60s doesn’t make it any less challenging. When we reach a certain age, it can be easy to find excuses for why we aren’t more fit.
Some of us have creaky joints. Others are overweight. Others may lack the funds to join a gym or purchase expensive home fitness equipment.
The excuses for avoiding exercising are endless.
But this 100-year-old runner reminds us that these excuses are just that… excuses!
At 100 years-old and weighing only 83 pounds, Ida Keeling is a force to be reckoned with.
In her lifetime, she’s overcome more hardship than most people ever endure – and it’s only made her stronger and more resilient.
Growing up in Harlem and living through the Depression, Ms. Keeling was humbled by her family’s struggles to survive.
“I learned to stand on my own two feet during the Depression,” she told the New York Times. “It taught you to do what you had to do without anyone doing it for you.”
As time went on, her strength only grew with the adversities that life presented her with. At the young age of 42, her husband passed away from a heart attack, leaving her to raise four children as a single mother.
But Ms. Keeling prevailed. She went on to support her family by working in a factory, while also staying actively involved in the civil rights movement that was happening at the time.
Life, though, seemed determined to continue to test Ms. Keeling’s strength. Two of her military-serving sons became addicted to drugs. Both were eventually murdered within two years of each other.
She told the New York Times, “I’ve never felt a pain so deep. I couldn’t make sense of any of it and things began to fall apart.”
Ms. Keeling found herself battling with depression and, as a result, numerous other health issues. But not for long.
At 67-years-old, she fought back. She managed to pull herself out of that dark place and get healthy by rekindling one of her childhood passions – running.
With some encouragement from her daughter, Ms. Keeling began her sunset running career by registering for a five kilometer race.
Make no mistake about it though, slipping on those running shoes after decades of collecting dust was no easy feat.
“Good Lord, I thought that race was never going to end, but afterwards I felt free,” Ms. Keeling recalled to the New York Times.
Becoming a runner at 67-years-old was challenging – but Ms. Keeling had overcome far greater challenges in her life with unfaltering strength and diligence. And she would approach her renewed running career with the same attitude.
In the past 33 years, Ms. Keeling has accomplished quite a bit as a runner. She’s set several impressive track-and-field records. She also holds the title for fastest time for an American woman aged 95-99 in the 60-meter dash with 29.86 seconds.
And she’s not stopping there!
She continues to register for numerous races and relays in the hopes of setting new records for women runners over 100-years-old.
Ms. Keeling’s courageous tale can serve as a reminder to all of us that getting older doesn’t have to mean slowing down. Age is merely a number and your life – and your health – is what you make of it.
“You see so many older people just sitting around – well, that’s not me,” Ms. Keeling told the New York Times. “Time marches on, but I keep going.”
At a time in life when many of us tend to slow down, Ms. Keeling is just getting started – and giving all of us a run for our money!
Let’s all use Ms. Keeling as an inspiration to do more in our lives and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone every single day!
What do you think about Ms. Keeling and her running career? What types of activities do you do to stay in shape? Would you ever be interested in beginning a sunset running career? Share your comments and join the conversation!
Photo credit: Elias Jerel Williams for The New York Times