Fitness Over 40: The Secrets of Senior Olympians

Fitness has no age limits. Just ask 67-year-old Lisa Hypner, who has won 35 gold medals and set 14 records at the Michigan Senior Olympics. Or Jeff Ellis, a 61-year-old powerlifter who has his own collection of medals. 

Hypner didn’t start training to swim competitively until the age of 55. She was a smoker who struggled to quit. Swimming helped her make the transition. 

“I got in the pool and I got a lap done, and I was gasping for air, and I went man, this isn’t going to work. So that was it, I stopped smoking because it was more painful to smoke and swim because I couldn’t breathe,” Hypner said. 

She keeps coming back to the pool because she finds the practices invigorating. Her goal is simple: do something better than she did the day before. She shares her story with Ann Marie Wakula, a certified trainer and an over 40 mother of three, in the latest episode of Fitness Over 40. 

Benefits of being active 

Wakula is the host of theFitness Over 40series, brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The three-minute videos feature tips and mini workouts people can incorporate into their daily lives, even at home.  

Hypner and Ellis are reminders that the benefits of athletics aren’t the competition as much as the benefits of being active. 

“You have to start slow, do what you can, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to increase your strength, your endurance,” Ellis said.  

When he started powerlifting at 18, Ellis figured he would continue into his 40s.  

“Now, I’m hoping I can do this for the rest of my life,” said Ellis, a CPA who is committed to making time for his daily gym workouts, even during the busy tax season. 

Inspiration for others 

Wakula hopes the stories of Hypner and Ellis will inspire and motivate others. 

“Don’t think because they’ve achieved such great things that you can’t achieve that, too. You just have to start small,” she said.  

She encourages people to begin by setting a goal in an activity they enjoy or always wanted to try.  

“Write it out on the calendar. Put it on your refrigerator, somewhere in view that you can see. Imagine what it will feel like at the end of your accomplishment,” Wakula said.  

Look for future Fitness over 40videos atAHealthierMichigan.org 

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