Wait—before you click away to some video vortex of cute cats and lip-syncing toddlers—hear me out. I know how off-putting the word “athlete” can be. To this day, despite my 10 marathons, grueling rowing competitions and almost-daily appearances at the Y for run-of-the-mill training, I can’t seem to refer to myself as an athlete. Athletes, to me, are Michael Phelps, Misty May Traynor (the Olympic beach volleyball champ), Gabby Douglas, Eli Manning. How could a mere mortal like me—especially one who’s a few years north of age 50—compare?
But there are good reasons why we should all—especially those of us over age 40—should think of ourselves more as athletes when we’re making decisions about our fitness plans and doing our day-to-day workouts. And yes, this goes for those of you who “just” walk for fitness, or go to Jazzercise or Zumba.