When it comes to physical activity, age is just a number. Seniors can still be active and competitive well into the triple-digit age range. One large-scale version of this is through the Senior Olympics. The Johnson County Senior Center uses a mix of fun and friendly competition to help seniors stay active and social through specialized sporting events like the Senior Olympics.
One example is a center member and national medalist Dr. Robert Glenn. He learned of the Senior Olympics 20 years ago but began competing in table tennis and golf around 2018. Since then, he has brought home medals from district and state competitions. At this point, Glenn has been to nationals twice and has been competing the last few weeks in June to qualify for 2023 competitions.
“The main point is to stay physically and mentally active,” explained Dr. Glenn. “You get bolder, not older. You get out and do things.”
Seniors compete regionally, on a state level, and then can advance to the national competition held every other year. Although the focus is on fun and physical health, there is also a social aspect.
Seniors have a chance to meet other people with similar interests with whom they may have not otherwise crossed paths. Additionally, endorphins from exercise can contribute to improved mental health as well.
“We would rather wear out than rust out,” Dr. Glenn explained the philosophy behind many competitors, emphasizing the health benefits of staying active. “For strategy, number one is you’ve got to plan on showing up. Number two, you’ve got to outlive your competition.”
The First Tennessee Human Resources Agency (FTHRA) is currently sending out Senior Olympic applications for the Tennessee games. Anyone interested can speak to Director Kathy Motsinger-Eller. Applications are also available at tnseniorolympics.com. Center members are reportedly excited to compete in pickleball for the first time now that they have fallen in love with the sport and gained easy access to a local field.
The Johnson County Senior Center is a nonprofit organization that serves seniors 60 and older. Membership is free, and volunteers of all ages are welcome.
For more about events, services, and classes available, visit johnsoncountyseniorcenter.com.