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Lifelong fitness enhances your professional, personal fitness

  • Published
  • By Capt. Neil Samson
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
"Can you believe all the things exercise has allowed you to do?" my wife asked me a few weeks ago as she looked at some of the pictures of all my races, competitions and collegiate competitions.

More than 10 years ago when I told myself I was going to pursue different athletic endeavors every year, some of my college friends told me it was impossible. Those same colleagues also said sooner or later, the inevitable adulthood, parenthood, 9-to-5 staff officer schedule and the 30-years-and-older stoutly physique would take form.

My mother had similar sentiments. She said professional athletes have to retire from their sport when they have passed their peak, usually when a younger generation of athletes starts to intermingle in the already-existing pool of older athletes.

She said to have a backup plan when you get to that point when you can no longer keep up with the younger, more vibrant crowd. I wouldn't describe myself as a professional, but I could understand her concern.

In any case, I chose to ignore my friends and my mother in their regards to staying active. They were being realistic, but they all lacked the same frame of reference I had.

In the past 10 years since those conversations, I experienced all communities of athleticism, from swimming collegiately, two-time Ironman Triathlon World Championships competitor, ultra-marathoner, Nordic skier, to CrossFit athlete, to name a few. I had become an all-around athlete.

I have seen many athletes still going strong, even creating an impression on younger athletes, while experiencing all the benefits and having marvelous, active adventures well into their 70's.

Sister Madonna Buder is still the oldest recorded Ironman World Championships finisher in her age-group division at the age of 76.

As a person newly experiencing their early 30's, I am still bound and determined to be one of them.

A continuously active, healthy lifestyle has now become a natural part of my life, with the exception of toaster pastries and cookies now-and-then.

I have never had to "exercise" to "stay in shape" to "prepare for next month's PT Test" or to have an "upcoming New Year resolution." I just try to find an active adventure in each day and each year as I set out 10 years ago.

It has kept my sanity and has kept me creative, but I've also found my richest friendships and more importantly, my most treasured relationships.

My most important relationship - with my wife has helped her find other areas for her to grow in. In turn, she has done the same for me in the non-physical, mental realm.

As was10 years ago, every day and every year contains some measure of active adventure, friendship and a closer connection to my wife and friends.

Contrary to my friend's philosophy years ago, being a 30-plus-year-old adult is fun.
Maybe I won't be active forever, but maybe I will, but as long as I'm able bodied enough to swim, bike, run, throw heavy weights over my head or do repetition after repetition or pull-ups, I'll see where it takes me.