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National Senior Games provide inspiring stories and an active demographic

The Senior Games promote healthy and active lifestyles for athletes over fifty,as well as a compelling opportunity for corporate America.

Throughout the summer, the National Senior Games are taking place all over America. These Games, which are designed to promote healthy and active lifestyles for athletes over fifty, also offer quality competition among peers, as well as a compelling opportunity for corporate America.

Although I am not actually participating in any of the competitive events, I am in complete support of what the Games are trying to accomplish.  In fact, I recently helped present an award to an outstanding individual competitor, and I plan to hand out other awards and lend an encouraging voice to a competition in Bakersfield, California, in October.

There are many reasons it’s important to continue competing athletically well beyond our retirement years; not the least of which is personal health.  Active bodies stay limber, blood pressure is under control, a higher breathing rate helps keep the lungs large and dry, and the social interaction keeps the mind alert and engaged.  Most people don’t wear out, they rust out.

The generation taking part in the Games knows more about the benefits of staying active than previous generations. As we all grow older, more and more of us will keep an active lifestyle, balancing exercise and social interaction.  Importantly, the Games allow this age group to enjoy competition while staying healthy and having a memorable experience.

Not surprisingly, this is a growing and increasingly important demographic for sponsors. Corporate America knows we will need new equipment and apparel to train, better food and nutrition to stay in shape, and new technologies to assist us in reaching our goals – fundamentally, this is no different than other demographic groups. However, because we are a distinct segment of the market, there’s an opportunity to market toward us in a way that hasn’t been done en masse before. It can be as simple as products tailored to our needs or campaigns featuring our faces, just like any other group.

With this in mind, three companies have already seen the benefit of sponsoring the Games, namely Humana, Astra Zeneca, and Post. Each appreciates the role sports plays throughout our lives, and I can personally vouch for this.

A couple of years ago, on a bet from my son-in-law, I re-entered the swimming arena, and now train 3-4 times a week, covering two miles in a workout.  While I doubt that I’ll ever approach the competitive times I reached in my youth, I can say that I have lost 40 pounds and I feel wonderful whenever I get to glide across the pool.  In hot or cold weather, cloudy or clear, I have rediscovered my fondness for simple athletic activity.

Last week, the Senior Games Council elected to honor Vivian Stancil with their Annual Personal Best Award.  I was pleased to join in the presentation.  Vivian went blind at age 19, and led a fulfilling life as a mother, school teacher, and community organizer.  But as she entered her 60s, she was warned that her weight would cause her health problems…and with a simple decision, she elected to overcome her fear of the water, and began a swimming career that resulted in almost two hundred swimming competition medals, and a great deal of travel.  Vivian’s attitude is contagious, and her testimony is powerful.  She lost over 100 pounds, and she finds her energy level to be sky-high.

If a blind, overweight retiree can change her life with a single decision, what ‘s keeping us from living up to our higher aspirations?


Swimmer John Naber earned four golds and a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, and the following year he led the USC Trojans to their fourth undefeated season and won the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete. Naber is also a sports broadcaster, published author, and corporate inspirational speaker, and is enshrined in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Bio

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