We expect a professional runner, a swimmer or a gymnast to be in better shape than us. But what about otherwise average seniors? These 17 seniors transform the way we think about aging — and what's perhaps even more impressive about these active golden agers is that most of them started their fitness regimen late in life.
DAVID WALTERS | 63 YEARS OLD
This 63-year-old marathoner, one of the quickest 60-plus runners on the planet, has no plans to slow down. In 2015, Illinois airline pilot David Walters ran the Chicago Marathon, then turned around and ran the New York City Marathon in 2:47:27 — only two minutes slower. He keeps in shape for double marathons by with cross training, the elliptical, pushing himself with a series of runs varying from 11 to 58 miles, a high-protein diet, and a painstaking recovery regimen.
EIKO | 66 YEARS OLD
Famous as part of the modern dance duo Eiko and Koma, 66-year-old Eiko began performing alone when Koma — her husband — injured his ankle. She continued on with a busy schedule of teaching and performing what The New York Times called "startlingly slow" works demanding great physical control, including hours-long works in November commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum. Though she never imagined herself as an "old performer," she realized she couldn't afford to wait to start her solo endeavor.
PAT GALLANT-CHARETTE | 67 YEARS OLD
Some 20 years ago Pat Gallant-Charette's son inspired her to try an open-water swim. Her new sport started slow, taking on lakes and bays and building her endurance as she battled freezing water and jellyfish. Then at 60 she set a world record for oldest woman to swim from Catalina Island to the mainland of California; and in 2017 she achieved her goal and became the oldest woman to swim the 21-mile English Channel.
GARY LINDEN | 68 YEARS OLD
KITTIE WESTON-KNAUER | 69 YEARS OLD
CHERYL TIEGS | 70 YEARS OLD
DOUGLAS DUNN | 75 YEARS OLD
Douglas Dunn still performs in his SoHo loft and elsewhere with his dance company, as recently as July when he performed "The Let Go" at New York's Park Avenue Armory. Dunn, a veteran of Merce Cunningham's troupe, says he dances to "demonstrate the great facility and ridiculous limits of the unaccoutred human body." His company is booked solid and Dunn isn't about to put away his dancing shoes anytime soon.
JEANNIE EPPER | 77 YEARS OLD
Remember the infamous vine-swinging scene in "Romancing The Stone," when Kathleen Turner's character traverses a deep ravine? How about Lynda Carter's tremendous leaps in television's "Wonder Woman"? Both were actually performed by Jeannie Epper, considered by many to be the greatest female stuntwoman. Hit by moving cars, thrown through windows and pushed out of tall buildings, Epper has done it all and is still working, including in 2015's "Hot Pursuit" with Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara. Now 77, Epper stays in shape by running and walking.
ERNESTINE SHEPHERD | 80 YEARS OLD
FRANCES WOOFENDEN | 83 YEARS OLD
SISTER MADONNA BUDER, 'THE IRON NUN' | 88 YEARS OLD
JOHANNA QUAAS | 92 YEARS OLD
The 92-year-old started out as a gymnast and competed in her first competition way back in 1934. She became a coach, but the love of the sport prompted her to return to gymnastics at 57, and she's been balancing on beams since. Images of Quass holding herself parallel on the balance beam were so unbelievable they were thought to be photoshopped, until a video of her performing in 2012 went viral, drawing more than 10 million views. Quass is the oldest competitive gymnast in the world.
BETTY WHITE | 96 YEARS OLD
Did you really think we'd leave her off this list? She may not be a marathoner, but Betty White must be doing something right: She's as active as ever. Whether you know her by her Emmy-winning role as Sue Ann Nivens on "Mary Tyler Moore," as Rose Nylund on "The Golden Girls" or her recent work on "Hot In Cleveland," you've seen her work. What's her secret to longevity? To simply enjoy life — "Accentuate the positive, not the negative" — and stick a strict diet of vodka and hot dogs, "probably in that order," as she told Parade.
JULIA "HURRICANE" HAWKINS | 102 YEARS OLD
IDA KEELING | 102 YEARS OLD
HIDEKICHI MIYAZAKI | 107 YEARS OLD
STANISLAW KOWALSKI | 108 YEARS OLD
Stanislaw Kowalski didn't start running until he turned 92 — though before that he biked or walked for exercise — but started training at six miles a day and is now earning medals and setting world records, including for running the 100 meter in 32.79 seconds at 104. He advocates never going to the doctor, and advises folks not to eat at night. If that's really all it takes, sign us up (though the occasional checkup still seems like a good idea).