HEALTH-February 20, 2007
"The Aging Athlete"

David Brown's excellent report ("Pulling Against Time", Washington Post, Feb. 13, 2007) neglects to discuss the need for continuing psychological incentives past the peak ages of efficiency, which he points out are in the late 20's. That's why not only masters swimming but masters track and many other sports have ongoing five year age brackets. Brown is right that continuing exercise maintains the best possible cardiovascular efficiency and extends life spans. Thousands of competitors take part in the national championship masters track meets, open to all comers. Most major marathons now have more competitors over 40 than under 40. Runners, jumpers, and throwers look forward to the next birthday which puts them into the beginning of a new age group, a never-ending cycle which maintains the incentive to compete, exercise, and stay fit for a (longer) lifetime. Masters track has competitors in brackets from 30 to 100+ years old! In other words, age never does have to "catch up" with you!

Robert S. Weiner
USA Track and Field National Masters Media Chair
Accokeek, MD