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[Admin Note: Several of these first posts are from other threads. I've collected them here on a thread devoted to "Inspiring Oldsters". --Dean]





I appreciate your advocacy for the image of centenarians, and I mean them no offense, but I think supercentenarians generally look like crap in photos because they look like crap in real life. They are suffering the ravages of the aging process, and by our hard-wired standards of physical attractiveness, these folks ain't it. Honestly, I expect the photographers are doing their best to make them look ok. 


But while there may not be many (any?) attractive supercentenarians, there are centenarians who still look quite good. This Pinterest channel has lots of pictures of them. But Pinterest is a PITA, blocking anyone without an account from view its pictures. So I've screen captured several of the most striking (reportedly) centenarians and linked to them below. Pretty impressive, both the individuals and the photography.




  xextVJk.png  8lftM1m.png



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  • 2 weeks later...

I was looking on Youtube for some inspirational videos of extreme seniors to complement the beautiful still photos of centenarians I posted above. Here are two videos of Olive Watson, one of those clean-living 7th Day Adventists who seemed to really benefit from their diet & lifestyle. She died last year at the age of 105. Here is an interview with her at 102, where she talks about her advice of living. She rode her bike on the street until 97, and only gave it up after an accident in favor of a stationary bike, which she says she rides 30min per day even at 102 - someone after my own heart!  And not just physically - it is amazing how sharp her mind is and her husband (93 in the video) is very impressive as well:



Here she is 3 years later, at 105 a few months before she died. Clearly time was taking its toll on her body, but her mind was still very sharp:



Here is a link to Olive's obituary, with her life history. There are certainly people who've lived longer than Olive, but I think she serves as a great example of how it is possible to maintain both physical and mental health well past 100 years. Hopefully if/when we reach that age we'll have lived a life as rich as Olive's, and hopefully the smart scientists will have cracked the mystery of aging and we'll never have to face the physical decline Olive experienced at age 105. 



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As you can see, I've decided to create a thread with photos, videos and stories of "inspiring oldsters".


Today's entry is a real gem. He's 105-year-old Hidekichi Miyazaki. Here are excerpts from this profile of this amazing man:


At 105, Hidekichi Miyazaki – AKA the Golden Bolt – has become the world’s oldest competitive sprinter, breaking his own 100m record into the bargain at an athletics meeting this week.
While Miyazaki’s time of 42.22 seconds earned him a place in Guinness World Records as the fastest man in the world in the over-105 age group, for him the feat was tinged with disappointment.
“I wanted to shave off a few more seconds, as I ran it in 36 seconds during training,” Miyazaki told reporters after the competition in Kyoto.
Here are pictures of Hidekichi during and after the race, and a video of the race itself. He looks so vibrant, determined and full of energy. Now he's the kind of oldster I hope to be when I grow up :-)
Note the different logo on his shirt above and below. Looks like someone did some photoshopping... The bottom one is what he was actually wearing during the race, as the video attests.
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  • 2 months later...



He's not 105 like Mr. Miyazaki, but 96-year-old Brit Charles Eugster is still very inspirational. He too is a sprinter/athlete. Here is a picture:




Pretty amazing huh!?


Here are a few quotes from this interview with him:


The London-born ex-dentist, who now lives in Switzerland, is arguably the fittest senior citizen on the planet. He's also a body-builder, a public speaker, a writer, a rower, a wakeboarder, an entrepreneur, and a budding fashion designer, planning his own line in elderly couture. But more than anything, he is a professional death defier...


Sprinting—or body-building, for that matter—are not things one normally associates with old people. Why?
I was 87 and realized my body was deteriorating. I had a muffin-top waist and my muscles were getting weaker and weaker. I felt so old. But because I was so vain, I didn't like the idea of it at all. So I joined a body-building gym and employed a personal trainer who was a Mr. Universe to rebuild my body from scratch.
Nine years on, at 96, do you feel old now?
Not at all. I feel like a youngster of 60, tops. Being fit is a wonderful thing. Before I turned 90, I got severe colds every November, but now they've completely stopped—I've had two in six years. I'll tell you something else: strength training increases your libido.


So you've literally reversed the process of aging.
Yes! You see, the stupid thing is that people don't realize that you can have a beach body at 90 and turn the heads of the sexy 70-year-old girls on the beach. I am living proof that, if you eat right and exercise properly, you can be that guy at any age.
What about retirement?
Retirement is the biggest killer of old people, full stop. I prefer to call it involuntary unemployment. What I'm nearly bursting a blood vessel about is the fact that humans are blissfully ignoring the aging process. We recycle everything nowadays, except human beings. Our expiry date is 65, after which we're thrown on the rubbish heap and chemically treated. We are pouring the experience, creativity, and talent of people over 65 down the toilet. They should be able to found companies, be creative. They have nothing to do except sit about and get sick. This is a world problem and it needs to change.
What's your answer?
PUT. OLD. PEOPLE. TO. WORK! One of the things I want to do is set up a retraining program for older people. I'd like to see companies set up in old people's homes that offer, say, computer services. For example, if I want to find out something, the computer is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it takes a while to find [what you're looking for]. Now, if I could call up an old people's home and say, "I want this information by that time," if they have 50 old people working on computers, one of them is bound to come up with something.


You've seen a world war, a Cold War, the Great Depression, and god knows how many financial crises, not to mention all the good things that have happened since you were born in 1919. What's the one piece of advice you'd give to young people today?
Explore your talents and never stop learning. In your lifetime you will not have one job, but you will have a huge number of different jobs in different areas. We are at the very beginning of the digital age, of which nobody really knows the consequences. Oh, and don't get too wrapped up in the culture of youth. Youth is so fantastic, but we should be impressing on people how wonderful, stupendous, exciting, and amazing old age can be, too. Oh, exercise and eat lots of fat. You know why! [presumably referring to his libido - DP]
What else is on your bucket list?
I want to change the world. I'm writing a book called "97 and Loving It", which I hope to publish this year. Then I want to establish fitness centers for those over 70 and start a job creation company to retrain older people. Then, of course, I want to have some connection with nutrition for the old. And the other thing in the back of my mind is that I would like to create a fashion label for older people.
Sounds like a pretty cool guy to me! Another inspiring oldster...
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  • 2 weeks later...

Most of the profiles on this thread lately have been inspiring older men. Time for a woman! 


In this case, her name is Ida Keeling, and she's profiled in this NYTimes article entitled "At 100, Still Running for Her Life". Here is her picture:




As the title of the story suggests, and the photo caption implies, Ida is quite active, and a runner (see a pattern in these profiles!?).


She has held several track-and-field records since she began racing in her late 60s, and she still has the fastest time for American women ages 95 to 99 in the 60-meter dash: 29.86 seconds. In the week to come, she plans to compete in a 100-meter event at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, where she hopes to establish a new standard for women over 100 years old.


“You see so many older people just sitting around — well, that’s not me,” said Ms. Keeling, who is barely 4-foot-6 and weighs 83 pounds. “Time marches on, but I keep going.”


To maintain her health, Ms. Keeling adheres to a stringent regimen of diet (“I eat for nutrition, not for taste”) and exercise (“I’ve got to get my hour in every day”). On a recent afternoon, Shelley Keeling led her mother through a routine that included push-ups, wall sits, shoulder presses and sprints back and forth on the balcony of her apartment in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Ms. Keeling lives alone and says that self-sufficiency is a key to her longevity.


Sounds like she's had a tough life, raising 4 kids as a single mom, with two of the boys eventually getting involved with drugs and getting killed. In fact, she turned to running at age 67 to get over depression triggered by the death of her sons. There is a short video accompanying the story showing her running and discussing her life.


Pretty impressive lady!



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  • 3 weeks later...

Grace Lee Boggs passed away earlier this year at the age of 100. She lived an extraordinary life. She wasn't just active, she seemed consistently ten years ahead of where history was heading for her entire life. She was a pioneer in the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the black power movement, the environmental movement and more. In her last years she got very interested in the maker movement, 3D printers and desktop manufacturing. I highly recommend her autobiography Living for Change, or the recent documentary about her, American Revolutionary:




I have no idea what kind of food she ate, but the life of the mind and imagination, as much as the life of the body, were active to the end.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is another inspiring oldster that caught my eye - India's top (former) body builder Manohar Aich (aka 'Pocket Hercules') who just died at aged 104.


While small in stature (according to his Wikipedia page, he stood only 4'10", or 1.5m), he certainly didn't suffer from late-onset sarcopenia - as this image attests!




He attributes part of the credit for his success, long life and good health to "a simple diet of milk, fruits and vegetables along with rice, lentils and fish". 


He wasn't rail thin (obviously) and clearly wasn't very calorie-restricted, at least in the absolute sense of the word, living for at least 65 years as a very muscular bodybuilder.  Sixty four years ago, he competed in and apparently won the 1952 Mr. Universe competition. According to an article in Muscle & Fitness magazine, he continued to lift right up until in 99th birthday when a stroke caused him to "leave the weights on the rack for good."


He began his career as a stunt man performing with a famous magician and would often enthral the audience by bending steel with his teeth or resting his belly on swords. Mr Aich gave his last [strong-man] performance at the age of 89.
"He was an inspiration to everyone, young and old. Death is inevitable but Manohar Aich will be remembered by all, across every sporting discipline," footballer Chuni Goswami told The Indian Express newspaper.


Below is a video of him from 2006, when he was 93 and still pumping iron for at least 90min per day. Pretty darn impressive. Goes to show that there is more than one way to skin the longevity cat!





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No list of inspiring centenarians would be complete without Jacque Fresco. Mr. Fresco is the brains behind the utopian vision known as the Venus Project. Here is a good article about Jacque and his vision on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Unlike most of the other inspiring oldsters on this thread, Jacque is out to change the world, and he's been at it for almost 50 years. 




Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Jacques vision of a future utopian society is that it won't be based on a democracy. Instead, as I understand it, intelligent technology would run things, designed by humans and with the interests of all humanity in mind. This could potentially be instantiated as a digital autonomous organization (DAO), as described here.


Here is a good video introduction to the Venus project:



Jacque has some pretty heady, inspirational ideas, and he's maintained the passion to pursue them for the past 50 years. I expect this zest for life and drive to see his vision become reality have helped him live such a long and extraordinary life.



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Thank you for compiling this list, Dean! I find stories about very old people in very good health surprisingly inspirational. The PBS documentary The Art of Aging includes many such stories. Perhaps my favorite one is that of Saburo Shochi:



He is 98 at the time the clip was shot. Years later, at age 106, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest person to complete a trip around the world using public transportation exclusively. Dr Shochi passed away in 2013, at the age of 107.

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  • 1 month later...

This isn't a typical inspiring older profile like previous posts on this thread, but instead an inspiring idea for how to connect with oldsters, and enrich the lives of both young and old.


It is a video highlighting an eldercare facility in the Netherlands that encourages young people to connect with older folks by offering students free rent in exchange for living and interacting with older residents. According to both the students and the elderly, it appears to be working. I think it is a really cool idea. Far too often in the US we isolate the elderly in "old folks home" where they are forgotten about except (perhaps) by a few family members who visit once or twice per week if they are lucky.




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From the part on 96-year-old Brit Charles Eugster:  "Youth is so fantastic, but we should be impressing on people how wonderful, stupendous, exciting, and amazing old age can be, too. Oh, exercise and eat lots of fat."


That last line I find noteworthy because that is what appears to beneficial for my progressive neuro-muscular disease, a disease which apparently bears hallmarks of premature aging with respect to muscle and metabolism.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if it is eventually discovered that it is healthiest to be gradually transitioning from a diet with carbs as the primary macronutrient in youth to a diet with fats primary in old age.  I also wonder that if as seniors one transitioned to a more fat rich diet it might be possible to reduce the mortality risks associated with being leaner.

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Here's one for the record books - literally.


This new study [1] (popular press) aimed to identify the world's best centenarian athlete, and assess rates for decline in athletic performance with age, based on age-stratified world records in timed or otherwise quantitative sports - specifically looking at track and field, swimming, and cycling events, where there are official records for people over 100. 


The researchers determined that based on world record times and distances, overall athletic performance declines at a rate of about 10-15% per decade. 


But there are some who buck that trend, and the French researchers identified French cycles (do I sense partisanship?) Robert Marchand as the world's best centenarian athlete.


In 2014, at the age of 102, Marchand set a world record in the 100+ age-group by cycling 26.9 km (about 13 miles) in one hours. This is only 50% less than the world record at any age, which stands at 54.5 km, meaning Marchand has only declined at 8% per decade in athletic performance relative to the best in the world. Here is Marchand's photo (from 2012 when he set his record first at age 100):




He does not look 100 to me.


Here are a couple interesting quotes from the author of the 100+ athletes study:


Lepers says that Marchand has exceptional muscular and cardiorespiratory function compared with other people of his age. His performance corresponds to an age-related decline of less than 8 per cent per decade for more than 60 years.
The rate of athletic decline also depends on the sport. “Our study shows that in some disciplines the decline is less pronounced,” he says. Running and swimming performances tend to plummet, for instance, whereas throwing and cycling abilities tend to decline more gently.


Marchand's terrific muscle retention and cardiovascular fitness, along with the author's observation, seem like an endorsement of cycling as one of the best way to maintain physical health without tearing up one's body.


Marchand has had an amazing life. According to his wikipedia page, at age 35 he finished 7th in the Grand Prix des Nations cycling race, an individual time trial considered the world championship for individual cyclists (at least at the time).


He moved to Canada for a time where he worked as a lumberjack (now there is a dangerous job), returning to France in 1960 at age 49 to live a quieter lifestyle as a gardener and wine dealer. He returned to cycling in 1978, at the age of 67, and has been riding every since. He first set the record in 2012 at age 100, and broke it in 2014 at 102. He also holds the 100+ record for cycling 100km (62 miles), at 4:17min.


Below is footage of Marchand setting his 100km record. Amazingly strong and coordinated for someone who is over 100! At least as of that time, he lived alone, drove a car, made his own meals, and cleaned his apartment with no help. 


Quite an inspiring oldster!






[1] Age Ageing. 2016 Jul 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Centenarian athletes: Examples of ultimate human performance?
Lepers R(1), Stapley PJ(2), Cattagni T(3).
Author information: 
(1)CAPS UMR1093, INSERM, Univ. Bourgogne Franche-Comté, F-21000 Dijon, France.
(2)Neural Control of Movement Laboratory, School of Medicine, Faculty of Science,
Medicine and Health, University of Wollongong, Australia. (3)Laboratory Movement,
Interactions, Performance EA 4334, University of Nantes, UFR STAPS, Nantes,
BACKGROUND: some centenarians are engaged in regular physical activity and
sometimes in sporting events.
OBJECTIVE: we aimed to identify world records of centenarian athletes in several 
sports and determine which represented the best performance when compared to
all-age world records, all disciplines taken together.
METHODS: all of the best performances achieved by centenarians were identified
and compared in three disciplines: athletics, swimming and cycling. The
performances were considered as an average of the respective speeds, except for
jumping and throwing events for which the maximum distances performed were
considered. Within each discipline, the decline in performance of centenarian
athletes was expressed as a percentage of the world record for that discipline.
In total, 60 performances of centenarian athletes were found. These performances 
belong to 19 individuals: 10 in athletics, 8 in swimming and 1 in cycling.
RESULTS: the centenarian world record performed by Robert Marchand in one hour
track cycling appears to be the best performance (-50.6% compared with the
all-age world record in this discipline) achieved by a centenarian.
CONCLUSIONS: although the physiological characteristics of Robert Marchand are
certainly exceptional, his remarkable performance could also be due to the lower 
age-related decline for cycling performances compared with running and swimming. 
Our observations offer new perspectives on how the human body can resist the
deleterious effects of ageing.
DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afw111 
PMID: 27496929
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In 2014, at the age of 102, Marchand set a world record in the 100+ age-group by cycling 26.9 km (about 13 miles) in one hours. This is only 50% less than the world record at any age, which stands at 54.5 km


This is somewhat misleading in that wind resistance is the major impediment to cycling at speed and it goes up with the square of velocity.  Here's a nice discussion of the power needed to ride a bicycle at speed.



Here's a calculator to get a rough idea of the power required to ride at a given speed with various parameters.


With the parameters I used (default + aerobars) I got roughly 90 watts power for Marchand to cycle 26.9 km/h versus 560 watts power for the record pace of 54.5 km/h


In summary, Marchand is likely putting out about 1/6th of the power of top cyclists and a lot less than 50% of what he achieved at his peak in youth.  He's still impressive but don't try to directly compare percentage speed in cycling to percentage speed in running or percentage weight in weight lifting as cycling is less linear than most activities.

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This is somewhat misleading in that wind resistance is the major impediment to cycling at speed and it goes up with the square of velocity. 


Hmm... I originally thought you were spot on, but after thinking about it I'm not sure your explanation (that cycling wind resistance goes up as the square of velocity) is quite the answer. Why? Because effort for both running and swimming also appear to scale with the square of velocity (discussion for running and swimming). So for each of the three sports, going half as fast as the world record holder (as Marchand did for his one hour cycling record) should require in the ballpark of ¼ the effort. The fact that none of the oldsters competing in running or swimming events could finish their races in half the respective world record times would naively suggest they aren't in as good shape as Marchand the cyclist, since in all three sports finishing in halve the record time should take ~¼ the effort, at least to first approximation.


I suspect the reason for Marchand's apparent advantage isn't simply a function of resistance due to wind (or water), which goes up with speed squared in each event. Rather, I suspect that it is due to the efficiency of cycling (converting power into velocity), i.e. there is a lot less wasted power in cycling relative to swimming and running, making it easier to come closer to the world record.


Think of it this way. Imagine there was an official world record for pushing one of those sleds football players using in practice. There is a certain minimum power required to overcome ground friction and move the sled at all. That minimum power to move the sled is entirely "wasted" - i.e. it doesn't contribute to velocity at all. Once it's moving, additional effort required to move the sled will also scale with the square of the speed, like in the other three sports. But because of the minimum power requirement, an oldster wouldn't be able to move the sled at all, making his time infinitely slower than the world record holder at football sled pushing.


In other words, there is a continuum of baseline difficulty (i.e. necessary power) to even get going and sustain motion in an event, with a different minimum effort for each sport, with cycling < running < swimming < football sled pushing. In the latter three events, equivalently powerful oldsters spend so much of their fixed power output overcoming the minimum exertion necessary to get started and keep moving that they can't reach the ~¼X additional power required to attain ½ the speed of the younger world record holders.


I could be wrong, but that's my intuition for why it's easier to achieve double the world record time (or equivalently, ½ the world record speed) in cycling relative to the other sports.


So you are quite right that it's probably unfair to point to Marchand as the most athletically competitive centenarian, and right to point out it takes less power to achieve ½ the record cycling speed than ½ the record running or swimming speed. But I don't think it is a simply result of differences in air (or water) resistance, but a more complicated function of the effort required for each sport.



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I think the fact that he's not in a wooden box is awesome, never mind quibbling with wind resistance from a bicycle seat. Fuck man, at 102 years of age what sort of wind resistance will I generate? Hopefully I'll generate no wind resistance at all because I'll be staring out an oval window of a space pod as I fly trippy into deeper space.

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Dean, yes, there are other factors than speed/wind resistance to total energy expenditure.  For cycling, in which speeds are substantially greater than running or swimming the wind resistance factor becomes dominant, but rolling resistance and transmission efficiency each play a role.  If you looked at the first link I sent it spells it out in detail with a nice formula.


I don't know what the breakdown of factors are for swimming, walking and running, but due to my disease I am profoundly weak.  I could bench press 225 lbs in my prime.   Now I can bench press 12 lbs.  Up from 4 lbs, a month ago...  In my prime I could ride at 25 mph and sustain it for a few minutes.  Now I can sustain 12 mph for a few minutes.  And yet I am so weak I am unable to jog at all.  I can not generate the explosive energy needed to get airborne nor can I manage the forces involved to remain upright between strides.


I went swimming a month ago.  Most swimming strokes I can no longer do as the energy required to get my mouth clear of the water and breath between strokes is overwhelming.  However, I can swim on my back ok just swishing my arms at my sides and kicking gently and my speed is a significant fraction, perhaps 20%, of what it would have been in my prime because this like cycling is primarily dominated by resistance non-linearly scaling with speed.


A couple months ago I was only able to bicycle half a block.  The energy required to remain upright on the bike was overwhelming.  In the past two weeks I've done two 20+ mile bicycle rides.  I am going 200 times as far but I am not 200 times more fit then I was then, cycling at slow speeds is very efficient, especially if one uses high pressure tires and lubricates their bearings and chain well.  What kills me now is hills and headwinds.  If one were to look at Marchand's ability to climb hills while cycling it would more obviously reveal his physical decline.


Another factor to consider is that sarcopenia likely hits fast twitch muscle much harder than slow twitch (as does my disease).  Flat ground cycling requires very little fast twitch muscle.  Even walking requires some which is why I still can't walk very far unassisted without falling although my distance walking with a walker has gone up tremendously.

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Looking at the formula at the first link I posted, I realized it was factored as a sum of forces that are then scaled by velocity.  The wind force squares with wind speed and that is scaled by velocity, so it really is a cube.  Which explains why Marchand is only producing roughly 1/6 of the power to go 1/2 as fast.  Some of the power needed (rolling resistance) scale linearly but much of it scales with a cube.


Yes, it is awesome this old man can still bicycle.  And bicycles are awesome.  But it is silly to call this man the greatest centenarian athlete when comparing the apples and oranges of cycling versus other activities such as running in such a naive fashion as was done.

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  • 2 months later...

Fauja Singh


Fauja Singh BEM (Punjabi: ਫੌਜਾ ਸਿੰਘ, born 1 April 1911) is a British Sikh centenarian marathon runner of Punjabi Indian descent. He is a world record holder in his age bracket. His current personal best time for the London Marathon(2003) is 6 hours 2 minutes,[4] and his marathon record, for age 90-plus, is 5 hours 40 minutes at the age of 92, at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon.


However, Guinness World Records refused to include Singh in its record book because he could not produce his birth certificate to prove his age. Birth records were not kept in India in 1911,[16] however it is claimed that records written in Urdu date back to 23 February 1879.[17] He was able to produce a passport listing his date of birth as 1 April 1911, and a letter from Queen Elizabeth II congratulating him on his 100th birthday.[18]






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