To 63-year-old Greg Cooke, seeing Diana Nyad this month become the first person to complete a 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida was nothing short of awesome. Nyad is, after all, just a year older than Cooke, and she reminded him of what is possible.
“I saw that and I thought, ‘Man, this is a total inspiration,'” he said. “It made me feel like I need to get up and get out there and do stuff.”
Unlike Nyad, Cooke, a government attorney who lives in Garrett Park, Md., was not much of an athlete for most of his adult life. But when he was 48, he changed his ways.
“I had little kids and I was fat,” he said. “I had a 6-year-old and I didn’t want to be an old slug dad who couldn’t keep up with the kids.”
Cooke began running and now completes marathons, with finish times in the 31/2-hour range.
Most people are less physically active as they age. Only 1 in 5 American adults overall exercises enough, as defined by guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health: at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, plus muscle-building activity at least twice a week. By their mid-50s, it is about 1 in 6; after 65 it’s only 1 in 7, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.