Growing Bolder and Confronting Ageism With The National Senior Games Association

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Growing Bolder, the world’s No. 1 lifestyle brand for the 50+ demographic is teaming up with the National Senior Games Association, the governing body of the National Senior Games to shine the spotlight on the rapidly growing world of masters or senior sports.

Roy Englert – by Doug Milles NY Times

Founded in 1987, the National Senior Games is the largest multi-sport championship event in the world for older adults. The Olympic-style games feature competition in over 20 sports and are held in different host cities every two years. The 2021 National Senior Games, postponed due to the pandemic, are being held in May 10-23, 2020 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Qualifying events are now underway in every state but because of the pandemic, the National Senior Games Association has relaxed its qualifying rules. For qualifying details visit NSGA.com.  

“We’re excited to become the official media partner of the National Senior Games Association, said Growing Bolder CEO Marc Middleton. “We think it’s leading one of the most important grassroots movements in America. It’s about much more than sports. It’s about a diverse, intergenerational community focused on physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. It’s about overcoming the damaging stereotypes perpetuated by an ageist culture.”

The National Senior Games are for women and men ages 50 and over with an increasing number in their 80s, 90s and 100s. Participants come in all shapes, sizes, abilities and disabilities. While the Games feature many world-class athletes, including former Olympic champions and college All-Americans, they also have men and women who never participated, let alone competed, until later in life. “Everyone has a competitive spirit and strives for their best performance,” says National Senior Games Association CEO Marc Riker, “But many are primarily motivated by the social, physical fitness and quality of life benefits they derive from participation. We characterize Senior Games as offering fitness, fun and fellowship.”

Athletes in the National Senior Games movement are not just improving the quality of their own lives, they’re changing the reality of what’s possible for all of us as we age. “We’ve all read the many studies that say rapidly accelerating physical decline is a normal and unavoidable part of the natural aging process,” says Middleton. “Yet those studies were all done with sedentary adults. Participants in the National Senior Games and other masters sports programs have provided an entirely new group of test subjects who are proving that it’s possible to not only slow and even reverse bone density loss, sarcopenia (muscle loss) and hormone loss, but to also delay or prevent the onset of dementia.”

senior woman running
Photo Credit: Andria Chieffo – National Senior Games Association

The result is a new model for aging one of vigorous longevity and an unprecedented quality of life built around exercise, socialization, encouragement and inspiration that’s sustainable until a very old age.

It’s a model and a movement that is critically important to our country and our culture because preventable chronic disease has become an epidemic resulting in a healthcare crisis that threatens our entire economy. According to the National Institutes of Health, some 50% of the U.S. population has a chronic disease accounting for 86% of all health-care costs — over $2 trillion. When including indirect costs associated with lost economic productivity, the total cost of chronic disease in the United States reaches $3.7 trillion each year, approximately 19.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.  “It’s been proven that exercise and socialization are two of the best medicines there are,” says Middleton.  “With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day and the majority battling multiple chronic diseases, the men and women supported by the National Senior Games Association are the role models we need now more than ever.”

TWO TIPS FOR PARTICIPATING IN MASTERS SPORTS AND THE NATIONAL SENIOR GAMES.

#1: Do, But Don’t Over Do 

Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise or sports program. But once you get the green light, never forget the rule that must inform everything you do: avoid injury at all costs. That means move slowly—more slowly than you want. Stretch more than you ever have. Pay close attention to your body and shut it down at the very first sign of injury. If you feel like you’re about to pull a muscle — or if you feel like you might have pulled a muscle but aren’t sure — then stop immediately, and don’t start back up for at least 24 hours. That’s how long it takes for many pulls and strains to flare up and present themselves. A single injury can sideline you for months. It’s far better to undertrain than to overtrain.

#2: Eliminate the Option Not To

Committing to a regular exercise or practice schedule takes commitment. After years on the couch our weaker selves have become great negotiators. They want to engage in a debate about the pros and cons of getting out of bed and working out.  They tell us , “It’s too cold.” “They’ll probably cancel practice.” and present endless, creative reasons to roll over and remain in bed rather get up and get moving. Eliminating the option of not showing up to practice is the only way to ensure that you will show up. It’s also the easiest pathway. Constantly battling with negative voices in our heads is an exhausting and stress-filled struggle. The voices will question our reasoning and even our sanity. The more we listen to them, the stronger they become. Deciding to do something isn’t enough. We must eliminate the option to not do it. 

Photo Credit: National Senior Games Assosiation

Are masters sports and the National Senior Games for you? Yes. Unequivocally. Many, if not most, who participate are not hardcore athletes and never will be. They simply enjoy the unique camaraderie and life-affirming bond created through the shared experience of improving overall health and well-being. You never have to compete. And you certainly don’t have to win to receive all the benefits of participation. 

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