Dieter Hesch is an 80-year-old (just) multi-sportsman who contacted us to tell us about himself. We think his story is inspiring - here’s what he had to say:-
Who are you, how old are you, what do you do?
...I am Dieter Hesch, 80 yrs. old. I am a Professor of Medicine and Biology, now retired but still scientifically active.
Tell us a bit about your history of involvement in sport. Were you sporty as a child? If so, has it always been part of your life, or did you at some point stop and then take it up again?
...well, I was born at the lake of Konstanz (Switzerland/Germany), so a great part of my lifetime was in and on water. I have been doing all sorts of board sports for the past 60 years. After the second world war performing sport was really limited. One time when I jumped off a diving board at the age of 14, I landed on my back und broke a vertebra. Fortunately no paraplegia occurred. But I was not allowed to play sports for a few years.
It’s said that we live in a Digital World. This article is being written using a digital system and, equally, you’re reading it on a digital system. The entirety of the Silver Grey Sports Club website exists because of the digital world. All of which is ironic, because the subject of this article is the fact that in all the most important respects we do in fact live in an Analogue World.
And the AW is largely overlooked. If people who look after their analogue selves rather than their digital selves were described as Luddites, as being out of touch with the modern world, what would be odd about that would be that nobody thinks about having an analogue self, an analogue identity. A digital identity is what you have. Who even thinks that an analogue identity is a thing? Which is odd, because analogue is at the bottom of everything.
90 year old Masters Cyclist Carl Grove set a new sprint world record for his age group in July 2018 - only to be stripped of the record several months later ... for a drug violation!
Never too old to try and get an edge over your rivals?
Not quite the whole story...
Earlier this year, in the summer of 2018, we met and filmed an interview with age-group cyclo-cross world champion Robin Delve. He told us about his start in cyclo-cross and his journey to the top of the world - and now he has done it again, World Cyclo-cross Champion for the 60-64 age group for the second year in a row.
Not only a determined and talented competitor, Robin is also an expressive writer, and his account of the race is well worth a read - giving a vivid idea of his experience during the race. Read it and you feel like you’re there with him - amazing!
Mountain biking can be one of the scarier adventure sports … if you’ve never done it before. The close proximity of metal and bone doesn’t make a comfortable partnership especially when you’re hurtling round an uneven and rocky trail in a bike park. However, these two show that the answer to the question in the title, as with all the activities we cover, is definitely “NO!”
Most people, including ourselves, wouldn’t consider athletics an extreme sport, so we haven’t covered it a great deal on Silver Grey Sports Club. However, we came across this video of the final of the women’s 100m in the 50-54 age-group from the World Masters Athletics (WMA) meeting in Perth, Australia in 2016. Looking at these athletes you can have no doubt that the strength and fitness required for participating in age-group athletic competition does very much crossover with some of the ideas we believe in - that there is no age limit to keeping your body in exceptionally good shape and enjoying everything that being in the best physical shape brings with it.
Here are a few things to think about while, say, spending time running on a treadmill - better that than reading a newspaper while doing it!
We have reported on many studies that have shown that exercise is good for the brain as well as the body. Now a new study has suggested that something like the reverse is also true, that obesity is bad for your brain, specifically for the volume of the brain’s grey matter. Grey matter is a major constituent part of the brain and is important in areas of the brain involved in muscle control and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Having less of it is not a good thing, and the research by Mark Hamer of Loughborough University and David Batty of University College London does appear to show that, as obesity increases, the brain’s grey matter takes the opposite route and gradually shrinks.
Ernestine Shepherd, at one time the oldest competitive female body-builder, titles which she won in 2010 and 2011, has passed 80 - and she’s still going strong.
No longer competing, she still trains in the gym 4 times per week, as well as doing cardio exercise every day - up to 80 miles per week - and it shows. You can’t really believe that she’s 80.
We had to wait six months after filming the interview in November but finally we had the opportunity to film Wolfi surfing his favourite spot in Cornwall, Watergate Bay. Not a perfect day as the wind blew a bit too much from the north and west but he made the best of it, and we were able to capture some of the graceful and stylish surfing that this 76-year-old brings to the waves.
Part of the reason for the delay is that for the last 28 years Wolfi has taken himself off to Tobago for part of the winter to get some surfing in warm water and, as he says, to enjoy the way of life and the music.
Norm Coleman contacted us as a way of getting in touch with Hilary Walker - we couldn't pass up such an opportunity
Who are you, what do you do, how old are you?
I am Norm Coleman, who has medical board certification in internal medicine, medical oncology and radiation oncology. I was a department chairperson at Harvard Medical School for 14 years (1985-99) and for the last 18 years I have worked at the US National Cancer Institute doing cancer research, health and medical preparedness for nuclear incidents and helping broaden the research opportunities, particularly for radiation oncology.
I am 73 years old, having grown up in the New York area, with career stops in California, Boston and Washington DC. I still work ~60 hours per week.
We’ve done a lot of writing about how exercise can be the best way of ageing successfully. We’ve written about how exercise can be medicine. We’ve written about Superagers, who don’t suffer the usual decrepitude of ageing, even when examination shows that they have the physical symptoms that mean they should be suffering from dementia, for instance, but they aren’t. We’ve described exercise in age as the true fountain of youth and we don’t intend to stop now. Because there is even more evidence of the truth of this, in a new study which shows how exercise operates at a fundamental level within the body to alter the commonly accepted course of ageing.
As 82 year old Professor Norman Lazarus, a co-author of the report and at the same time a subject of it, said ”If exercise was a pill, everyone would be taking it”.
At SGSC we endlessly write about the importance of keeping the body fit and strong in order to perform the extreme sports we all love. Within that message is the idea that by challenging themselves through these sports and activities and keeping their body in good shape to meet these challenges people will also feel good mentally, on top of the physical benefits that they will experience.
Along the same lines, and of great interest to us, there has been a study by Dr Emily Rogalski, professor of Cognitive Neurology at North Western University in Chicago, of what she calls “super-agers”. These are people aged in their 80’s, 90’s and even up to 100 who don’t exhibit the usual age-related decline in brain performance. Her study involved following a group of 74 super-agers over several years, and these people were found to exhibit the mental sharpness and memory capacity normally associated with 50 year olds - albeit that some of the them were shown in post-mortem examination (10 of them agreed to have this done) to have the physical symptoms of dementia.
We first came across Louis Gomez in an online video. He contacted us recently and was happy to tell us his story - here it is.
Who are you, what do you do, how old are you?
I am Louis Gómez a 79 year old retiree from Miami, Florida. I retired at 55 from Chase Bank where I worked in IT.
How long have you been involved in Kitesurfing? How did it begin?
I learned to kiteboard when I was 70 years old and I am currently foilboarding also.
Some new research, led by Kristen Beavers, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University, sheds some light on two important and interlinked issues that concern Silver Grey athletes - keeping a healthily low body weight while maintaining adequate muscle mass for both your sports and for your health and quality of life.
This new study suggests the way to go is to combine weight training with a calorie-controlled diet and in this way to preserve lean muscle mass which can be lost through aerobic workouts.
People don't all become Silver Grey athletes in the same way or for the same reasons. In the case of Pat Gallant-Charette it was a sudden death that started her on the journey which led to her numerous records for distance swimming.
If you’ve ever thought that it was too late to start exercising, too late to get more strength and/or fitness as you get older think again.
A new study from the Mayo Clinic, led by Kirsten Coffman, has found that if Silver Greys want to start even a vigorous exercise regime, there's a good chance their lungs will be able to keep up with the pace.
The Fountain of Youth. It’s an idea that has been around since the beginning of human history, probably, certainly since early civilisation, with roots in Greek mythology and written about as early as the the 5th century BCE, by the Greek writer Herodotus. He described it as a spring that could restore the youth of anyone who drinks from it or bathes in its waters. That story described a quite literal return to being young. The question is, is it really necessary to be young in order to be youthful, or at least in order to have some of the energy that one has when younger.
Apparently not - at least, not according to a report into some research from the Mayo Clinic.
5 years’ ago in 2012, we reported on French cyclist Robert Marchand’s age-group record for cycling 100 kilometres. Now at the age of 105, he is still going strong and still setting records.
In January this year he cycled 22.547 kilometres (14.01 miles) in one hour. Not only is this a record, even the Over-105-Years age group is new, created especially for him.
As the saying goes, it isn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last time .... that we get research that shows that the benefits of exercise go beyond muscles and up as far as your brain.
Here is yet more evidence that exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. It comes from a study carried out at McMaster University in Canada by Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology.
…OR...“The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease”...
…which is the title of some research published about 10 years ago, and which is particularly relevant to many topics on this site.
Beat Kammerlander is someone who has pushed the boundaries of his sport, sport climbing. Having begun as a teenager in his native Austria, he is still climbing well into his fifties. He is particularly known for developing sport climbing in the Alps.
The German gymnast Johanna Quaas is officially the oldest active gymnast in the world. In 2013, she was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for that achievement.
At 90, in 2015, she was still going strong.