At 92, she is the oldest gymnast in the world.
We are all born differently. Different genes, places, families, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. But there is one resource that we all share equally: time. Time is the ultimate equalizer because it’s the only resource that you can never get more of. No matter how much status, wealth or power you have, you cannot overcome time. Even larger-than-life figures aren't immune to the effects of time.
The physical decline of our bodies is inevitable. So why exercise if you're going to turn soft and squishy regardless? If the Terminator can't beat old age, what chance do I have? Wrong mentality. True, you cannot beat time. But you can delay its effects and not exercising will only accelerate the aging process. So for anyone that's ever used age as an excuse, I recommend that you keep reading.
If anyone is able to use age as an excuse, it’s Johanna Quaas. Johanna is a German gymnast and, at 92 years old, is the oldest gymnast in the world.
To put into context how many years you’ve seen if you’re 92, let’s provide some dates. Johanna was born in 1925, six years after the end of WW1. When Germany and Japan surrendered in WW2, she was 19 years old. When mankind first stepped on the moon, she was 45 and at the turn of the 21st century, Johanna was 75 years old. We’re closer to the year 2100 then we are to the year that Johanna was born in.
It seems unreal that Johanna is doing the things that she’s doing. Not only is she doing things that most seniors can’t do, but she’s doing things that most people can’t do.
Now Johanna isn’t competing in the Olympics. She’s not doing double pikes or triple fulls. But she is doing things that are ridiculously impressive for her age. She is bucking the norm and challenging our notion of what we think 92 year olds are capable of.
Our bodies naturally deteriorate over time, our bones become more brittle and our muscles less supple. There’s no avoiding that. So why has Johanna seemingly been able to? Why can she do handstand push-ups and parallel bar holds when most people her age just consider themselves lucky to be alive?
Could it be that Johanna was born with unbelievable genetics? Maybe.
What’s more likely is that her lifelong commitment to physical activity has enabled her to defy the normal effects of old age. Research has shown that physical activity can extend life expectancy by at least five years. That was concluded for individuals who were doing moderate levels of exercise each day. The truth is we don’t know how long life and ability can be extended by physical activity. It could be five years or it could be twenty. People like Johanna force us to reassess our definition of possible.
Johanna is just one person and may not be an accurate representation of everyone, but it is a fact that physical activity will extend your life. If you want to live longer, move more. It’s that simple.
Everyone has an excuse for why they are not exercising. But that’s all they are - excuses. Give any excuse and there's an example of someone who invalidates it. You’re too busy? If the President of the United States had time to exercise 6 days a week, you do. You’re too tired? Perfect - exercise gives you more energy. You’re too old? Johanna Quaas.
If you could take a pill that gave you more energy, made you happier, and extended your life by years, would you take it? Of course you would. So why wouldn't you exercise? After all, in Johanna's own words, "if you are fit, it is easy to master life."