If you are in your 40’s or older, you may feel that your days of working out and athleticism are coming to an end. That doesn’t need to be the case, though. There are lots of 40-year-old athletes who’ve competed and excelled in their careers well past that age. Learn more about them and their triumphs below to help get you inspired for your workouts.
What Happens After 40 (And Why It’s Still Important To Work Out)
As people get older and past their 40’s, they may start to experience distinct muscle mass reduction. This reduces strength and can make maintaining a regular exercise schedule more challenging.1
However, it’s important for your health to continue a workout routine all through life. Regular exercise can help improve physical and mental health. More importantly, maintaining a steady exercise routine later in life might help with the effects of aging.2,3
Age Is Only A Number To These Athletes
No one exemplifies the benefits of regular exercise and training like these athletes. Many of them even reached their peak performance, or had their best seasons, after turning 40. Check out their successes below to find the inspiration you need to continue your training.
Kristin Armstrong – The Wheels Keep On Spinning
This cycle queen won a gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games the day before her 43rd birthday. It was the third gold medal of her career, and it made her the most decorated women’s cyclist in U.S. history. Plus, all that post-40-pedal-pushing made Armstrong the only woman to win the same event at three consecutive Olympic games.4
George Foreman – A Sizzling Career
Before changing the way you could grill meat, George Foreman changed what it meant to be a 40-year-old athlete. At the age of 45, he won the World Heavyweight Title by defeating a 26-year-old boxer.5 This made him the oldest person to take home a Heavyweight title and showed audiences that being in your twenties isn’t all it’s knocked up to be.
Oksana Chusovitina – A Spring In Her Step Past 40
Oksana Chusovitina wowed the world in the 2016 Olympic Games when she competed at the age of 41 in gymnastics against people more than half her age. As if that weren’t enough, she recently qualified for her 8th Olympic competition for the 2020 Tokyo games. That competition will make her the oldest Olympic gymnast in history at the age of 45.6
Tom Brady – Season After Season Of Wins
No contemporary athlete defies the challenges of age quite like Tom Brady. Winning five Super Bowls wasn’t enough for Brady. He won his sixth at the age of 41 in 2019. This made him the oldest person to ever accomplish that feat. He didn’t hang up his cleats after that, though. Brady is in his 20th season with the Patriots, and his career is still going. That, by the way, also puts him two seasons away from holding the record for the most seasons played on a single team.7,8
Dara Torres – Life In The Fast Lane
This all-star swimmer won twelve medals from five different Olympic games. To cap off her 26 years on the Olympic stage, Torres won silver at the age of 41 in the Beijing Olympics. This sealed her place in the pantheon of U.S. athletes and made her the most decorated U.S. female athlete of all time.9,10
Yuichiro Miura – No Mountain Too Tall
Forget about 40. In 2013, Miura climbed Mount Everest at the age of 80. This made him the oldest person to ever summit the monstrous mountain and a bona fide legend amongst endurance athletes. He also bested the previous record holder… himself. Miura initially set the record at the age of 70. Nothing like a little friendly competition with yourself.11
Martina Navratilova – Age Is A Mind Set
This tennis dynamo retired from singles play in 1995 after dominating the game for many seasons. She was back on the courts at the age of 44, and her career was as strong as ever. She won 12 more doubles titles and three Grand Slam titles. Navratilova’s last victory happened one month before her 50th birthday. This made her the oldest player to ever win a Grand Slam. She even kept playing after being inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame. That’s some serious dedication.12,13
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – An Unstoppable Force
When this NBA superstar retired at the age of 42, no basketball player had scored so many points or won more MVP awards. His entire career spanned 20 seasons. After turning 40, he won two NBA Finals with the Lakers two seasons in a row. Very few (if any) players have ever achieved the same level of personal and team success that Abdul-Jabbar did on the court. His place in the Basketball Hall of Fame is ironclad.14
Eilleen Olzweski – Packed Full Of Punch
Eilleen Olzweski is known affectionately as the “Hawaiian Mongoose” for her not-so-affectionate triumphs in the world of boxing. This fierce competitor didn’t even start her boxing career until the age of 32. In 2013, at age 45, Olzweski became the oldest person to win the Flyweight Title.15,16
Ted Williams – A Red Sox Legend
Arguably one of the best hitters in baseball history, this Red Sox batter swung his way into the Hall of Fame with his massive batting career. He played 21 seasons with the Sox into his 40’s. At his last trip to the plate for the Red Sox at the age of 42, Williams hit a home run. Not a bad way to say farewell to the game he changed forever.17
Master Athletes Abound
Inspiration to continue your life as an athlete after 40 is all around. The master athletes above represent a fraction of the professionals who continued their careers past 40. Some of them won impressive competitions, while others were happy to just keep doing what they loved. What’s most important is that they never let their careers or training falter just because of their age.
You can do the same. Turning 40 doesn’t mean you have to hang up your running shoes or let your tennis racket collect dust. Anyone over 40 can stay in shape with the right attitude and determination. You don’t need the promise of trophies or awards, either. Regular exercise for everyone is a great way to keep the body and mind healthy. That’s a reward worth winning every year of your life.