Active Over 50

By on August 1, 2012

By Sandra Wilson –

When I was a teen I hated sports, gym class was torture, and you couldn’t catch me doing anything physical except maybe walking up and down the street with my girlfriends. I had dreams of being a model in those days after attending modeling school. However, I found myself pregnant and married at the ripe age of 19. Six weeks after my first was born, I was expecting my second! I went from 135 to 199 pounds. I gave up on the idea of ever modeling again. My hips felt so big that I actually ran in my back yard until I could drop enough weight to run in public. After much hard work and many miles, I got back down to my normal weight. I kept running, until I moved to the hills of southwestern Virginia when a friend of mine, who was over fifty at the time, introduced me to triathlons. I thought that if she could compete at her age, I should be able to do it as well.

So in my late 30’s I began training for triathlons. I swam, road my bike and ran. After competing in a couple of events, I started to have problems. My hair started falling out, my joints ached and I was in a great deal of pain. At first I thought it was MS or Crone’s disease. I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was eventually diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was only 38 years old. How could this happen to me? I knew heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid disease ran in my family, along with obesity, but not RA.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

The doctor assured me that he could help me. Two shots of steroids in my hips and prescription drugs and I should feel much better. My first reaction was that I didn’t want to take drugs of any sort. My doctor bluntly asked, “Do you want to just exist and be miserable without the medication, or do you want to have some quality of life?” I wanted quality! I wanted to get back on my bike. I wanted to be active! I was just afraid of what the drugs might do to me. His advice was to give it a go and combine the medication with a healthy lifestyle and see how I felt.

Now, it is over 12 years later and I am still going strong. I continue to take medication twice a day. In addition, I opted to give up the high impact of running and concentrate solely on cycling. I now ride anywhere from 35-60 miles at a time. The aerobic benefits are great and it helps me keep my weight where I want it. My joints are strong and generally pain free. It has increased my energy level to allow me to work as a teacher and keep up with my grandchildren. I am often mistaken for their mother and I must admit it is a great boost to my confidence. I even returned to modeling at 48 and continue to do so at 51!

I am no superwoman. It is not easy. I am sore and tired at the end of the day. The good part is that I rarely have any trouble sleeping and I wake up more refreshed. OK, full disclosure…the coffee helps a great deal too, but the point is I am not deteriorating from inactivity.

Anyone at most any age can improve their fitness level with a bit of determination. The secret is to find an activity that you like to do. It could be swimming, biking, walking, or playing a sport. As long as you enjoy it, you will do it. Add weights to you work out at least twice a week. You don’t have to lift heavy, but you need to lift to keep your bones strong and you muscles firm. You will not only look great, but you will feel great too.

Life is too short to let the years control you…there is too much yet to accomplish. With a healthy lifestyle you no longer have to sit on the sidelines. You can get back in the game regardless of your age!


Sandra resides in Richmond, VA and is a middle school teacher who works with gifted and advanced students. She graduated from Averrett University with a degree in English and Theater. Sandra models for local designers in Richmond and helps coordinate the Richmond Virginia Fashion Week show for the Henrico County student designers. She’s also an avid Cyclist and spends many hours on the road peddling her time away. Sandra can be reached at: [email protected],

About Sandra Wilson

Sandra Wilson is currently living in Richmond Virginia. She works as a middle school teacher and works with Gifted and advanced students. She has graduated from Averrett University and has a degree in English and Theater. Sandra models for local designers in Richmond and helps coordinate the Richmond Virginia Fashion Week show for the Henrico County student designers. She also is an avid Cyclist and spend many hours on the road peddling here time away. Sandra can be reached at: [email protected],,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Active Over 50