Whenever I spend time with family members in their 50s and 60s, they like to remind me that my 20s are my prime years and physically, things will only go downhill from this point on. They usually follow this up with horror stories about joint and muscle pain, but I won’t go into that.
Now as it turns out, if I were talking to some of the senior citizens in Beijing, China, the conversation would be very different. In fact, I may find a few who would challenge me to a push up contest. And trust me– they would win.
Head over to Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park and you will see it covered in senior citizens. No, they’re not there peacefully feeding pieces of bread to ducks (which would have been my initial guess). They’ve taken over the jungle gym to work out.
And these aren’t just tiny, delicate work outs either. Men are doing sit ups while hanging from metal bars, women are jump-roping and just about everyone seems to be able to do pull ups better than I ever could.
You may be surprised to discover that many of these athletic senior citizens didn’t actually exercise before retiring. With a job to maintain and kids to raise, many admit to not even caring too much about their physical fitness in their younger years. Now retired, the senior citizens finally have time to focus on exercise.
As expected, China’s life expectancy seems to have benefitted from this senior citizen hobby. Huffington Post notes:
Despite rampant cigarette smoking, suffocating pollution and some ghastly food-safety scandals, China compares favorably with other upper middle income countries on life expectancy. At 75.2 years, China’s life expectancy currently lags only 3.5 years behind that of the U.S., despite China having around one-eighth of America’s per-capita GDP.
Check out this video below and see their athletic skills for yourself. Keep in mind that nearly everyone in this video is over 60-years-old and retired. In fact, the man in the beginning is 86 and ran a marathon just four years ago.