Two things have made me want to start running properly, again. One was the travel journalist I met in New York who began entering marathons in her 50s (we cheered her on at around the halfway mark) and the other is Superager Irene Obera, 84. ‘You have to move it or you’re going to lose it,’ Obera explains to the BBC team documenting her Advanced Lifestyle. Running, bowling, tennis, gym; you name it, this record-breaking, 80-something Superager does it. Spending a ridiculous amount of time at a computer screen and having a niggling back injury, I’m aware that over the last decade I’ve steadily been losing it. At the age of 40 I ran a half-marathon, and have become increasingly sedentary ever since. Inspired by the Superagers, I’m going to get back on track; while repeating Irene’s mantra, ‘A quitter never wins, a winner never quits.’

Watch a video clip of super-active Irene Obera HERE; there are more Secrets of the Superagers HERE.

34 thoughts on “Inspired by the 80-something Superagers

  1. Yep started runnng a couple of years ago only do 5-10ks and especially love parkrun son Saturday mornings never thought I’d say this but love it and a boost to confidence

  2. This may be my favorite post of the year. This lady is truly awesome and gorgeous… she certainly is an inspiration. I’m a bit of a hardcore sporty girl who at 56 can put my leg behind my neck, do the splits, kayak regularly, weights, yoga, you name it… all kinds of stuff. It does tend to mess with the joints though so keep that in mind. When people ask me “what’s the best exercise?”, I answer: “the one you will actually do”. Get out there and do SOMETHING…. and don’t stop!

  3. Just Do It! But do it smart and start slow, follow a running program so you don’t get injured and give it up. Sports have brought so many good things into my life, Health, competition, goal setting, but most of all life long friendships. I’m 60 and my friends and I competed in Womens Football (soccer) in the World Masters Games in New Zealand this spring and brought a silver medal back to Canada with us. I’m no super athlete, have always been average but have gained so much by making sport part of my lifestyle. Go find that again for yourself. I’ll be cheering you on!

  4. I challenged myself in June to take a yoga class every morning for 30 days straight with the intention of writing a blog post about it. After 30 days there was no question in my mind that I wanted to continue and have been ever since, missing only a handful of mornings. It’s become a way of life and I depend on it now as much for my physical shape as my mental state. I’ve practiced yoga sporadically for thirty years but remained at the same level, until now. Committing to it daily has been a life changer. Good luck with your running but would second the caution on minding your joints. My running friends swear by the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

    1. That’s a really great idea Jolain, you’ve inspired me to start my own 30 day yoga challenge. Like you I’ve practiced yoga for years but although I always make time for a 5 km run I haven’t had the same dedication to yoga and am conscious that now I am 60 my body is starting to stiffen up and I really need the stretching and strengthening as much as the aerobic. I don’t know whether you use podcasts, I have found them invaluable in providing an audio class to follow as I am not very good at putting together my own sequence – I particularly like ABC Radio Classic Flow (that’s Australian Broadcast not American) and the excellent Sarah B Yoga. I’ll report back in February.

  5. She’s amazing. Just went to the gym today for the first time in quite a while. I was so glad that my pretty health and formerly athletic body remembered what to do and ‘thanked’ me immediately afterwards for the workout. You look very fit, I’m sure you’ll get back to where you were soon. Cheers!

  6. Truly inspirational. The year I turned 50 I was sedentary, fat, tired and unhappy working long hours in a desk job I hated; caring for declining elderly parents and a son in final year of high school. Something had to give until I noticed a group of swimmers who met daily at our local rockpool. They were all 70 plus; swam everday (rain hail or shine) and seemed happy & energetic. I wanted to be like that! Over the summer I took up daily lap swimming – could barely swim 100 metres in the beginning but by the end of the summer I could swim over 2km a day. The decrease in mental fog and exhaustion & uplift in mood and energy was immediate. I am now 52; living in Asia for a few years, working remotely and freelancing; joined a local walking and yoga group; taken up ceramics; volunteer at a museum and no longer have a car (I walk or use public transport). I truly believe that being active and swimming daily was the catalyst for change over the past few years and if I had stayed sedentary I would not have had the energy to make these changes. It’s also been a great way to meet people in my new city. Masters competive swimming is my next goal.

    1. I smiled reading your comment Kerrie. I love the way that the world can get bigger and better as we get older and getting outside, moving the body and meeting new people seems to be key. Thanks for more inspiration.

  7. I’m impressed to read about all this athletism. I saw a news report recently urging people to keep moving. Personally I don’t run but admire those who can and do participate in 5K runs, half-marathons and marathons. I live with someone who is still running in late 60s and has run marathons and attained a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. As did my sons. Instead I practice yoga, do Pilates and swim and walk. More my style. Despite several leg injuries including falling going downstairs and ripping ligaments in leg and on another occasion a foot I have persisted. With the help of good physiotherapists and good yoga instructors I have kept going, fighting off arthritis and regaining muscle strength. I don’t have a daily yoga class more like two a week. The important thing is to do something daily. Not only does it keep one healthy but doing so improves ones posture and appearance and being physically tired helps sleep soundly. Good luck Alyson if you resume running. A happy healthy New Year to all.

  8. Think of all the lovely leggings and tops from Sweaty Betty not to mention colourful trainers one could wear too along the path to fitness !!!

  9. I used to run, too…in my twenties & thirties. Stopped after having kids; then spent several years being overweight & sedentary. Around age 55 I lost weight, and started going to regular Pilates twice a week; then took up tennis. I’m 60 now, not a very good tennis player, but it’s fun and provides both exercise and a social life! I’ve been thinking about starting up running again, would benefit my tennis game as well as my blood pressure, but so far all I’ve done is think about it! Maybe you will inspire me to get some new trainers and get going.

  10. I’ll be joining you in the New Year. I do reformer pilates twice a week and have just started seeing a sports therapist to sort out my clicky right knee and three sessions in and I’m click and pain free. She also said she could get me running again so I’ve accepted the challenge and looking forward to being fitter and leaner in 2018 🙂

  11. She really is an inspiration. I tend to stick to pilates and yoga because of the arthritis in my left knee. Instead, I walk everywhere so do about an hour and a half every day, and cycle on the flat (not easy in the Pennines). I agree that it is transformational – a really important act of psychological self care as well as for fitness. Best Xmas Wishes to everyone too!

  12. I will be very interested to follow your running journey (no pun intended). I have tried to run on and off for years, never with any consistency or purpose. I made more effort this year, got myself a tracker which helps with motivation and joined a very friendly and inclusive club here in Plymouth. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘proper’ runner but I now run at least once a week, usually 5-8k at a time, and can honestly say I enjoy it, which is the main thing. I have no plans for a marathon or even half-marathon but I hope to improve my endurance and speed over the year. I’m 62 btw so am in total awe of Irene. She looks absolutely amazing too.
    Happy Christmas – have really enjoyed your blog and both books. Looking forward to more interesting articles. Your hair will look fab when fully grey by the way. Have never regretted letting mine show.

  13. Great post..

    Also…like the reference Superagers….Instead of the stupid term Senior Citizens.

    Be good to yourselves.


  14. I started running 7 months ago. I am 58 . I couldn’t run from 1 lamp post to the next but am now training for my first half marathon. It is sometimes tough but the positives are immense. I look and feel at least 10 years younger and over the last 2 years have lost 6 and a half stone . I’m like a different person . When it’s hard I remind myself of where I came from and all the benefits. Just love fitting into size 10s !!! Amazing feeling !!!

  15. She was amazing but not everyone wants to pound the streets! More inspirational I thought was the 95 year old who volunteers in a NY library, doesn’t exercise but walks …lots! & is engaged in the community book clubs, attends opera, theatre etc… 95 fgs!! I have just got a puppy so walking lots is not an option !

  16. Irene Obera is Miss Bad Ass! I love her. I am 57 and have been running for 36 years and hope I will be running well into my 80s. Yoga and swimming and lots of walking are also part of my routine. You have to move everyday! We all spend way too much time behind the screen. Just be sure to listen to your body – it’s so smart, it really tells you everything you need to know, you just have to listen and pay close attention. And in the wise words of my orthopedic doctor, “if it hurts, don’t do it.”

  17. She is truly inspiring! And how beautiful she is. I loved running when I was in my 30s and 40s even throughout the cold Saskatchewan Canada winters but then, living with black ice on the East Coast I put the runners awaay and learned how to swim in my 40s. I was at the pool anyway with my competitive swimmer daughter so I began swimming regularly with a masters team and now 71 I still swim 3x a week, do pilates, yoga and walk 5k every morning. I’ve recently joined a group of mature women ranging in age from 60 to 82 who do synchronized swimming. We have a coach, meet to practice weekly and put on a small performance a couple of times a yr. I thought I handled myself well in the water but synchro is humbling! There is much laughing (and gasping) and I’ve met some lovely and interesting women. All of the comments here are inspiring. Enjoy your running Alyson! I still remember how wonderful I felt after a good run.

  18. Irene is now my desk top inspiration for 2018! As an almost 55 year old I’ve ben making a conscious effort to lose some of the meno weight this year and 10kg later I feel so much better and happier and ready to challenge myself again – a bit!

  19. WOW, what an inspiration. I did my 1st marathon at 48 and now I’m inspired to do it again. Turning 62 in March, so no excuse. She is beautiful and looks very fit. Love it!!

  20. Yep. Enjoyed those comments. More yoga in the New Year then. Very newly retired. Just looking for ideas. Not sporty but quite supple and a large dog kept it all together so far.
    What’s the view on zumba gold?

  21. I used to play hockey, then started practising spinning and pilates; this year I have added running 5 km every saturday and sunday morning to my routine, it has given me 30 minutes during which I am not looking at any screen and I just let my mind ramble (I don´t know if I am using the correct word), plus I have lost 5 kg and dropped my cholesterol from 220 to 200. I really intend to keep this way, the idea of having difficulties moving when I grow older (I am 50) terrifies me!

  22. I walk an hour a day at least and I hike. As for other sports, I have always thought of myself as not athletic. I loathe trying to hit balls. But, this posting challenges me — maybe I need to rethink some things!

  23. Our local inspiration (in Vancouver, Canada) is Betty Jean McHugh, who began running in her 50s, I believe, and who smashed the 90+ world record for marathons, as she’s smashed several age-category records before this one. She turned 90 in November, maintained a 9:42 pace per kilometre for a 6:47:31 finish — astounding, right?
    I’ve been struggling to get my running back on track this year, having to switch to more cross-training after being slowed by injury, but I’m hoping I can manage at least one more marathon.

  24. After having a heart attack at 50–out of the blue, and I was a thin, active, non-smoker etc., etc.–and two heart surgeries, I’ve stepped up my activity. No surgeries since 2005, and my doctors credit it to meds (as few as possible), diet and MAINLY exercise. I go to Cardio Rehab three days a week where I do aerobics and weights. I am 64, and I feel, and look, great!
    Want to do all you can for a longer life? The MAGIC PILL IS EXERCISE. Make it interesting, but DO IT!

  25. I love to read about these inspiring ladies! I am 57 and started running 10 years ago working my way up to competitive 5ks the last few years. The past year I have had a couple of running/hiking injuries and am battling my way back but I learned a long time ago to never ever quit. Great post!

  26. Just what I needed! I moved house and location earlier this year and then broke my arm. Between missing my friends and neighbors and my PT at the gym I’ve been trying to get back to my routines of walking and gym.
    All the comments are an inspiration too so I’m now more determined and know I will feel so much better physically and emotionally.

  27. Alyson, what an inspirational post and links — thank you! I also want to thank the other commenters who have shared their motivational exercise regimens and health recovery stories.

    I’ll throw down some more encouragement to women who want to make 2018 the turnaround year for their own self care. I’m a 72-year-old woman who in the last five years has lost and maintained a 100-pound weight loss. I now do aquarobics three days a week, a yoga class two days a week with a home practice on other days, and walk outdoors as many days as weather permits. I meditate (very simply) daily. The foods I eat now are so much more nutritious than when I was heavier. I’ve ditched my Ambien habit and now drink no more than five ounces of wine daily. As a result of these consistent changes in my lifestyle I have immensely more energy and less arthritic pain and feel less stress than I’ve felt in decades!

    Returning to the daily focus of this blog, these last few years my interest in personal style and fashion has returned. What I wear each day is now chosen to express myself and my joy in life, not to make me less visible.

    Thank you again, Alyson, for addressing this topic. I hope you will keep a focus on it in your blog posts all next year.

  28. I took up running in September, having done no excercise for years. After just 4 months the physical and mental benefits are amazing. A great way to start, and remain injury free, is with the NHS Couch to 5K programme (app and online). They also have an amazingly supportive online forum. It got me from not wanting to run for a bus to looking forward to going out tomorrow and running 8k for the first time! I agree with all the comments above, it really can be a life-changer.

  29. This is exactly the sort of inspiration I need, I’ve never felt so old in my body and mind, I’m going to be pushing myself to do more in 2018. thanks.

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