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Book Review: 50 Athletes Over 50 by Don McGrath, Ph.D

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The average American watches at least four hours of television every day, according to A.C. Nielsen Co. They say that by the time a person reaches 65, he/she will have spent nine years watching TV. Think about it. All this inactivity coupled with computer use, leads to weight gain, which is harder to shed as you get older.

These startling statistics made me realize that it’s important to eat healthy and get in shape. That is what attracted me to the book, “50 Athletes Over 50.”

Written by Don McGrath, Ph.D., the book includes a series of interviews of 50 athletes who are over the age of 50. Stories ranged from a 72-year-old amputee who was a runner and cyclist to a barefoot water skier who was 94-years-old and took up water skiing at 40.

These stories motivated and encouraged me, especially since I started a training program this past August. Although I'm not yet 50, I find that there are many obstacles in my way. However, I learned that I need to keep pushing forward, no matter how hard it gets.

I liked that the book was broken into several different sections. Dr. McGrath included a workbook after each section. I found it to be helpful and very motivational. I know writing things down helps you to stick to your goals.

In the beginning, Dr. McGrath talks about three different types of athletes over 50 – Innovators (people who changed their sport for another), Bloomers (people who started later in life) and Groovers (people who loved their sport at a younger age and then continued later in life to dedicate at least seven hours a week to their sport).

The next sections include – "Dream it," "Love it," and "Live it," followed by a workbook of questions. Since Dr. McGrath was not able to include all of the interviews in the book, the last chapter includes a synopsis of the remaining people he interviewed without providing the reader with the actual interview. He mentions that if interested, you could find the interview online at www.50Athletesover50.com.

Many of the stories made me smile and feel motivated. I loved the story about the older couple that trained for triathlons together. The wife, 67, loved golf and tennis, but since she wanted to spend more time with her husband, 69, she decided to work out with him.

I also enjoyed reading about the athletes who raise money for many worthy non-profit causes. It made me feel good that they were getting healthy and doing something good for their community at the same time!

What I didn’t like about the book was that it was written in an interview format. I thought it would have read better as individual case studies. I also thought that 50 stories was a lot to read, and although each was different, the answers were somewhat similar.

However, when I finished reading the book, I felt as if I can do whatever I set my mind to do –  and that entails going to the gym tomorrow!

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About Hilary Topper

  • Your experiences and this article are inspiring. I started officiating high school football when I was 46. It’s been fun and challenging both mentally and physically. I need a reason to exercise and study and officiating fills the bill! Thanks for an interesting review.