When I retired in my early 50’s, I moved to southwest Florida for the warm weather during the winter and the many outdoor activities. Once I settled in, I immediately noticed seniors in groups of two, three, and four or more running, walking and bicycling throughout the day, and they were not moving at a leisurely stroll.
Most were in a full on cardio sweat, no matter what activity they were engaged in. Men and women wore brightly colored T-shirts, shorts with matching running or walking shoes, while listening to their favorite music or audio book.
The bicyclists were of a different breed altogether, the riders wearing either neon green, yellow, lime or blue colored tops that grabs your attention immediately and any driver along the roadway.
While out riding one day I secretly fell in behind a group of bicyclist and after ten minutes I could not maintain their seventeen to nineteen mile per hour speed they so leisurely maintain. Later on I met and spoke with these senior athletes who eagerly encouraged me to join them in their activities.
The majority of the seniors are fifteen, to thirty-five years or more my senior, and I was feeling a little intimidated, and my ego was bruised, especially when I thought of how I tried keeping pace with bicyclists.
I discovered they run, or walk on average 3-6 miles every other day, and the bicyclist average fifteen to thirty miles twice or maybe three times a week. Who ever made the comment that “Florida is Gods waiting room” hasn’t seen these seniors? I may be younger than most of these seniors, but I recall hearing older guys in my home town of St. Louis say, “You don’t get to be old, by being a fool“.
I realized that at 5’11”, 285lbs, that if I attempted to keep up with these seniors it would be harmful to my health. So with a bruised ego, I changed my diet from red meat, chicken wings, and beer to a vegetarian diet that included seafood. I could never give up the seafood. I began walking an average of three to four miles every other day and bicycling four to five miles traveling to businesses like Starbucks, and the local library, recreational facilities and parks where I live.
I have competed in several walk/run 5-kilometer races and I recently recorded my best time of forty-seven minutes and sixteen seconds. I say that’s not bad for three months’ worth of training.
Before retirement, I would never have imagined that I would retire and achieve a healthier lifestyle.