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94-year-old track star is pinnacle of healthy aging

February 3, 2014

Genetics, exercise and healthy eating have been scientifically proven to significantly contribute to a healthy lifestyle for seniors, allowing individuals to perform daily activities with improved functioning and ease. Although exercising from a young age can lead to a large number of health benefits, individuals who do not start to exercise until the later years of their lives still have plenty of room to grow.

Olga Kotelko, a 94-year-old retired schoolteacher, has been competing in sports marathons and track meets competitively since she was 77 years old. While Kotelko participated in recreational sports activities when she was younger, it wasn't until she was well into her 70s before she began regularly partaking in physically demanding exercises, according to The New York Times. Now 94 years old, Kotelko has been profiled by the news source, featured on The Today Show and is the subject of a new book titled "What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives."

Author Bruce Grierson recently spoke to WBUR Boston about the athletic superstar, detailing that while Kotelko's daily gym activity has helped her to run numerous marathons, a large majority of her motivation comes from within. After raising two children by herself and retiring from her job, Kotelko started looking for a new way to invest her time, which she found in competitive track.

"What I take away from this is: How cool, that she felt like there was new stuff to do. It wasn't 'Let's start folding our cards here,' it's 'What's a new thing I can do?'" Grierson explained. "She asks that still, even in her mid-90s: 'What are the opportunities here?'"

After studying Kotelko's genetic makeup, scientists found that it was not a genetic predisposition that allowed her muscle mass to stay strong enough to run daily marathons at her age - It was a combination of her energetic spirit and exercise regimen, The New York Times reported.