BY DR. STEVE JONAS | MAY 06, 2019, 10:39 A.M. (ET)
“Not Dead Yet?” you might ask? Is that any way to title a column on our blog?
Well, yes, that is if it is the title of a new book containing the collected wisdom of a group of 18 world age-group champions in our sports of triathlon and duathlon, all of whom are over 75 years of age. That wisdom, in the form of 56 tips, each with commentary, is provided for (as it is said in the preface to the book): “everyone in mid-life and beyond who wants to be fit and well or, as we say, thriving and flourishing.”
The wisdom has been assembled by my friends Don Ardell and Jack Welber, with the writing done principally by Don. It is a guide for living the wellness lifestyle that I can recommend to any multisport athlete, regardless of age.
If you are reading this column, you are "Not Dead Yet." In fact, as a multisport athlete you are surely not sitting (or lying) around waiting to die. You are already active mentally and physically and presumably you engage in healthy eating as well. But you may well want to even further improve the quality of your life, in both the physical and mental realms.
As you become older, a process none of us can stop, you might well like to diminish the burdens of aging that so many others have to bear, and in fact become younger in functional terms. If any of the above are true for you, then this book is for you.
It happens that I have written a number of books on health and wellness in general and on various aspects of multi-sport racing in particular. I am 82 as I write these words, in April, 2019. I am about to start my 37th season in the sport, having done over 250 races. And thus, over time, I have developed my own approach to healthy aging. It happens (surprise, surprise) to have much in common with the philosophy in general and the tips in particular that are presented in this book.
BUT, there is one big difference between me and the writers of this book (many of whom I have had the privilege of knowing personally). They are all fast: national and world champions.
I am not fast. Indeed, I now always finish at the back of the pack. Being naturally slow in all three sports, the back of the pack is where I always have been for most of my racing career. But I do finish.
And I owe my own longevity in the sport — and my own experience with healthy aging — to following the major elements that bind together the tips that this marvelous collection of world and national champions, led by Don and Jack, have assembled for this book. And by the way, unlike many books of this type, it is funny. Do enjoy the humor. Having it and appreciating it is an important part of healthy aging.
Don, it should be noted, was the first health care professional to take the term “wellness,” originally developed in a little-known book by Dr. Halbert Dunn, and project it onto the national stage. For this effort, beginning in the 1970s, Don became known as “the Dean of Wellness.”
Since that time, “wellness” has become an integral part of the health care vocabulary, although it has a variety of meanings for a variety of health and wellness care providers and practitioners. In recent years, Don has taken the term to the next level: what he defines as the “Four Dimensions of REAL Wellness,” comprising Reason, Exuberance, Athleticism and Liberty. It is around those four dimensions that the book and its 56 tips from our champions is primarily organized.
REAL wellness is a lifestyle choice, an ongoing conscious process, not a product or a service. It’s a pathway, not a destination. We all recognize that human bodies deteriorate and decay, naturally.
What we try to do with wellness choices is to slow the speed and direction decay takes, for our benefit. Some at an older age have even turned their lives around in a positive direction, mentally and physically, by following the kinds of tips-for-wellness-and-healthy-living that our champions provide in this this book.
Indeed, there is plenty of research that shows that large numbers of people enjoy such successes in the latter part of their lives. Choices are to be made when one reaches the stage of Not Dead Yet. This book shows you how you can make it one of the more enjoyable parts of your life.
Ardell, D. and Welber, J., Not Dead Yet: World Triathlon Champions 75+ Offer Tips, www.donardell.com, 2019.
This series of thoughts and recommendations about multi-sport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, 101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Steve’s most recent multisport book is Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. His first book on multi-sport racing, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®, 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Steve has been racing tri’s and du’s since 1983. At the start of his 37th season in the sport, 2019, he had done a total of 256 races.