Stop Exercising

If you’re not saving for your seventies, eighties, and nineties.

Olga Kotelko is considered one of the world’s greatest athletes, holding 23 world records, 17 in her current age category, 90 to 95.

From the NYTimes Magazine:

At last fall’s Lahti championship, Kotelko threw a javelin more than 20 feet farther than her nearest age-group rival. At the World Masters Games in Sydney, Kotelko’s time in the 100 meters — 23.95 seconds — was faster than that of some finalists in the 80-to-84-year category, two brackets down. World Masters Athletics, the governing body of masters track, uses “age-graded” tables developed by statisticians to create a kind of standard score, expressed as a percentage, for any athletic feat. The world record for any given event would theoretically be assigned 100 percent. But a number of Kotelko’s marks — in shot put, high jump, 100-meter dash — top 100 percent. Because there are so few competitors over 90, age-graded scores are still guesswork.

Suspected of doping by some of her competitors, OK borrows from Lance’s playbook and repeatedly points out she’s never failed a test. Kidding of course.

Scientists researching the linkages between exercise, fitness, and longevity are busily studying OK and are finding the linkages are even stronger than suspected.

This type of fitness news is always heralded by the exercise community of which I’m a part, but is it really good news? I wonder because of another steady stream of stories about the elderly today—that they’re not saving nearly enough for their post-retirement lives. What if thirty, forty, and fifty-something spenders are also committed exercisers and then have to live through their sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties on reduced Social Security benefits and their meager savings?

If you’re not saving for your distant future, maybe you should stop exercising.

Sometimes I wonder what a Saturday morning 10 miler with the team costs. Setting aside our time (it’s Saturday morning after all), let’s assume we’re wearing $100 shoes that last for 500 miles. That’s 2% of $100 or $2 in shoe wear and tear. Next, let’s assume we’re wearing a shirt, shorts, and socks that cost $70 new. They last at least 140 runs so another 50 cents. Then I eat and drink a lot more throughout the day than I otherwise would if I was sedentary, so approximately $2.50 for a total of $5. This is where if I had a contract with MasterCard I’d write, “And the raunchy, witty banter, priceless.”

But I’ve never factored in the hidden “Olga Kotelko” cost. Of course there are no guarantees, life is fragile, but the odds are the team and I are extending our lives each Saturday morning. I’m not sure how to quantify that.

That’s okay though because I’m choosing to think positively about my longevity and saving for the distant future. Which is why I’m going to continue training for the 2052 Senior Games.