My voice is small, maybe your voice is small as well. But combined – we can shout this message in a way that will echo.
The message is simple: the myriad of businesses that make up the American healthcare system – as currently designed – do not benefit if you remain healthy. There is little to no financial incentive to keep you active and healthy. We need and deserve better. We need a healthcare system with prevention as its foundation. And prevention starts with you. YOU are the healthcare revolution we have all been waiting for.
Well, not everyone is waiting. There has been a massive up-swelling of entrepreneurs, educators and activists that have all been very busy creating this change. Direct primary care docs, concierge medicine practices and self-insured corporations – all are providing proactive care designed around your specific health & wellness needs.
And there is another massive group effecting change – the athlete. Specifically, the older athlete, the 50+ demographic who is more commonly known to be mismanaging multiple chronic issues, slowly sliding into an expensive life of weaving through the healthcare maze. Ok boomer, enough.
Today’s older athlete is the disruptor. The majority seem to be avoiding every chronic issue except one – just being over fifty. This niche demographic frequently gets addicted to a new sport – running, cycling, tennis, skiing (downhill & cross country), rock climbing – there are so many options! Once addicted to their new activity(s) of choice…a whole set of dominos tend to fall into place. They start strength training programs, they make dietary changes, they learn recovery techniques – whatever it takes that will allow them to keep enjoying their activities / sports for as long as possible. It is a most wonderful circular addiction. They find community. They find purpose. And whether it is intentional or not – they find health. This group of 50+ athletes is bending the healthcare cost curve and having a blast. Best. Medicine. Ever.
This collection of interviews was created for two primary reasons: first – for my personal curiosity. (I’m a cyclist, and I’m extremely curious how other cyclists train, eat, recover. What are their secrets? Why did I just get dropped…again?) Second – we are constantly exposed to messaging regarding the health benefits of exercise and I wanted to hear exactly what that meant to the people within my circle of influence.
Every interview so far has been the proof statement I expected. These 50+ athletes are not just exceeding their “by date” – they remain an extremely healthy bunch. No obesity, or any of the lifestyle diseases that travel with it. No bullhorn needed, this group is communicating a simple but important message – purely by example – to friends and neighbors: “if you are concerned with the rising cost of healthcare in America, and your health specifically – plug into an active community and become an athlete.”
“Chronic diseases account for 75% of the money our nation spends on health care, yet only 1% of health dollars are spent on public efforts to improve overall health. Four chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year.”–National Council On Aging
Any activity, any sport you enjoy will get you moving. And moving is smiling. As you get involved, you will find incredible numbers of local clubs dedicated to your new sport of choice: cycling, running, triathlons, hiking, yoga, walking, tennis, pickleball. (if pickleball is not already in your area, it’s coming) You can find these groups by visiting your local bike shop, running store, health club, or even the bulletin board at your local park. Meetup is another great resource. And within those clubs, you will find more experienced athletes who love to share their experience and wisdom. You will make new friends and find community no matter where you travel. In time, you will be the athlete taking the newbie under your wing.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the community you choose to plug into. Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Who you choose to surround yourself with is so incredibly important. This theme is reflected in every interview I have conducted so far. We are greatly influenced by those closest to us – they affect how we think, how we view ourselves, and how we make decisions. If you want to be more active, then find a local community that support your favorite sports / activities and dive in headfirst.
If you decide to become a 50+ athlete, your name will also be auto-enrolled as an active participant in the healthcare revolution, and I would love to hear your journey. The good and the bad. The pain and the glory. (there is most definitely both)
Welcome to the land of Strava kudos, a closet full of spandex, a pantry full of electrolyte drinks and a wonderful sense of community and accomplishment.
Andrew Graham – lost somewhere in the Rockies
50+ Cycling geek
Mediocre downhill skier
Hiker enamored with Colorado beauty