Let’s take a moment to sit and ponder: one in seven adults in America today is older than 80. And the fastest-growing age group are people over 100! The average life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. has reached 76 and 81, and it’s expected to keep rising, thanks to advances in medicine, nutrition and safety.
So, as life expectancy rises, more seniors are eager to pursue their favorite activities or to reach their lifetime goals. No matter the age, it’s important to keep your body and mind sharp. But to be honest, we found some seniors that are worthy of ALL of our admiration, because they live such an active life at their age. So, are you looking to be inspired? Check out these amazing seniors and what they’ve managed to achieve.
- Harriette Thompson – Harriette Thompson was 76 years old when she ran her first marathon, and it marked an important point in her career. She crossed the Suja Rock’n’Roll San Diego Marathon finish line on May 31, 2015, becoming the oldest woman ever to complete a 26-mile race. At the impressive age of 92 years and 65 days old, she finished the marathon in 7 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds. But this was not her only hobby! She was also a classically trained pianist, who had three concerts at Carnegie Hall.
- Nola Ochs – Nola Ochs took her first college course at Fort Hays State University, in Kansas, in 1930, but didn’t finish her studies until 2007, at the age of 95, becoming the nation’s oldest college graduate. She raised four sons and became a grandmother of 13 and a great-grandmother of 15. She then took a few classes at her local community college to keep herself busy, and before she knew it, she only had 30 hours left until her bachelor’s degree. After that, she decided to re-enroll at FHSU. She graduated with a 3.7 GPA, alongside her 21-year-old granddaughter, and realized it wasn’t enough. She then decided to get her master’s degree in liberal studies, which she got from FHSU in 2010 at the age of 98.
- Hank Brunjes – For Hank Brunjes, dancing was a lifetime passion. He started dancing at the age of 4 and initiated his career on Broadway at 20. He was also a part of the original cast of West Side Story in 1957. In 2011, when he was 78 years old, he was still singing and dancing in the Fabulous Palm Spring Follies in Palm Springs, California. At some point, someone asked him what it was like to have 200 shows per year in your seventies, and he answered: “These are some of the best years of my life.”
- Jeannie Epper – She’s also known as “the greatest stuntwoman who’s ever lived”. Although she’s a great-grandmother, nothing stopped her from jumping through glass windows and escaping from burning buildings at 70 years old. In the 1970s, she was Lynda Carter’s stunt double in the TV series Wonder Woman, but also appeared in other famous movies like Minority Report, The Fast and the Furious, and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
- Wesley E. Brown – Wesley Brown was a federal judge on the Kansas District Court, ever since John F. Kennedy appointed him nearly 50 years ago. He died at age 104 in 2012. Brown was famous for his temper on the bench but in his later years, his colleagues took him as an example for his mentally astute state.
- Frances Woofenden – Frances Woofenden is a competitive water skier who is 80 years old and has more than 100 medals to her name. You might think “that’s not so impressive”, but imagine that she only started waterskiing until she moved to Florida at the age of 50! Always wearing her pink lipstick, gold hoop earrings, and a backless bathing suit, she’s stylish AND skilled.
- Ernestine Shepherd – How would it make you feel to know that your personal trainer was actually twice your age? If she was 78-year-old Ernestine Shepherd, you’d probably be more motivated to finish your set of exercises. Apart from being the oldest female bodybuilder, Shepherd wakes up every morning at 3 am to run(she logs 80 miles a week) and lift weights.
- Hershel McGriff – For Hershel McGriff, reaching your speed limit has been a life motto. He started racing cars in 1945, and in 1989, at 61 years, he was declared the oldest driver to win a NASCAR race. But he didn’t want to stop there: at 81, he competed in a national NASCAR race at Portland International Raceway, finishing 13th.
- Forrest Lunsway and Rose Pollard – The lovebirds married in March 2011 in California, breaking the Guinness’ record as the world’s oldest couple to get married. Although they have been dating for 30 years, they decided to make it official on Lunsway’s 100th birthday. Lunsway told his new wife: “I want you to hang around for a lot of years because I’m going to be 110!”
- The Young@Heart Chorus – Although their ages range from 73 to 89, the members of the Young@Heart chorus like to sing, and they like to sing loud! Getting inspiration from Bruce Springsteen or Radiohead’s tunes, they are definitely proving you’re never too old to rock out.
- Georgina Harwood – She’s not your typical great-grandmother. In March 2015, Georgina Harwood celebrated her 100th birthday by jumping out of a plane with 15 friends and family members, followed by a swim with…the sharks! Not only did she celebrate being alive for a century with a wild birthday party, but Harwood also raised money for South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute.