Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Let the Senior Games Begin


WebMD Feature

May 29, 2000 -- One sign of the growing presence of vigorous older people is the National Senior Games Association, a not-for-profit entity that promotes health and fitness and coordinates state Senior Games and Senior Olympics organizations.

The Senior Games movement itself is just barely a teenager -- 13 years old -- but it has grown steadily from 2,500 participants in the 1987 national games to 12,000 participants in 1999. When you include the state and local competitions, each year about a quarter million athletes age 50 and over are involved, and the Baby Boom generation is expected to swell the ranks in coming years.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

Breaking Up With Your Doctor

Brenda Della Casa had been seeing her primary care physician for two years and had brushed off her concerns about getting rushed care - until she had a health scare she couldn’t ignore. She told her doctor she was experiencing terrible back pain and stomachaches. Her doctor checked her, said she was fine, and sent her on her way. Five days later, Della Casa, an author and dating coach in Chicago, was traveling and had pains so severe she could barely move. When she received a voicemail from...

Read the Breaking Up With Your Doctor article > >

Senior athletes cite the camaraderie and friendship as draws, says Cynthia Vaughan, Games Coordinator for the California State Senior Games Championships. "This becomes sort of their family," she says. "These are vibrant people."

One participant, Shirley Sluiter, has played tennis since she was 14 or 15. Although she confesses that she can't cover the court quite as easily as she once did, she still plays singles. Before getting out of bed each morning, she does exercises for her arms and legs, and she walks at least 15 minutes a day. In tennis, she placed fourth in the 75 to 79 age group at the 1999 National Senior Games in Tucson, Ariz.

Don Stupfel, a swimmer who at 72 has participated in both the Senior Games and the Pacific Coast Masters Association, says he enjoys "competition, meeting with people, watching them excel, improve, and stay in shape." His wife Gloria, also in her 70s, and brother Norman, 68, also swim in the Senior Games.

Stupfel has been a competitive swimmer off and on all his life, and just a few years ago worked underwater as a commercial abalone and sea urchin fisherman. He says that swimming has helped him overcome severe back problems. "I look forward to [advancing to] my next age group," says Stupfel, "instead of worrying about getting older."

Writer David R. Dudley is based in Berkeley, Calif. His stories have appeared in The New Physician and The San Jose Mercury News.

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
romantic couple
Dr. Ruth’s bedroom tips for long-term couples.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article