What do this pole dancer, surfer and martial arts expert have in common?

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Older Australians are dynamic, youthful and courageous, according to new research conducted by Lumen – and we shouldn’t be surprised.

The research found that 40 per cent of over-50s surveyed were travelling more than they did when they were younger, and 30 per cent were trying new experiences and pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.

The Lumen research was designed to gather information about the attitudes of Australia’s over 50s and, potentially, challenge the ageist stereotypes that permeate society today.

In other findings, an impressive 40 per cent said that they were exercising regularly and felt fitter than they did when they were younger – a finding clearly illustrated by 63-year-old Michael Cottier, believed to be the world’s oldest professional surfer; 55-year-old Tony Angus, who has a 6th degree black belt in the martial art Kenpo 5.0, and 55-year-old Sarah Jane Thompson, who is the oldest participant in her pole dancing classes.

The research follows an international study of the media’s representation of over 50s, which revealed that 86 per cent of the age group felt misrepresented by the media and the images commonly used to reflect them.

Charly Lester, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Lumen, said: “Far too often, the media sweeps anyone over the age of 50 into one 50-plus age bracket, and regularly depicts being ‘over 50’ with images of 70- or 80-year-olds. But there is a huge difference in those age groups.


“While 50 might have been the start of old age years ago, today that is just not the case. Today, 50 is far closer to mid-life than to retirement with most 50-year-olds living lives conducive to that of someone in their 30s and 40s, not someone in their 70s and 80s.

“At Lumen, we want to put a stop to ageism and to celebrate people who are 50-plus by highlighting that life is far from done when you hit the ‘big 5-0’.”

Martial art exponent Mr Angus says that 50 is the new 20. “We can’t lose sight of the value that older people bring to the world,” he said. “That is the years spent learning and gathering information, and gathering the philosophies of living … As you start to gather your life experiences, you start to become wiser, and there is something very pleasing about that.”

Ms Thompson said that when she turned 50 she felt empowered to just do whatever she wanted to do and be whatever she wanted to be. “You can start to indulge your passions and really go for it,” she said.

The Lumen research was conducted by Quantum Market Research data online in November and is based on information from about 1000 Australians.

Chief executive of the International Longevity Centre–UK Baroness Sally Greengross said that labels of chronological age were unfair and contributed to ageism.

Labels such as ‘pensioner’ were important at times in the past because pensions were a wonderful invention that allowed older people to live independently.

“It is odd today to call somebody a pensioner. We don’t label people by the method of earning money,” she said.

“We don’t always recognise it, but it is there, underlying our language, underlying what we say and it gives people an excuse to treat us differently as we get older.”

Robert Tickner, co-chair of anti-ageism campaign EveryAGE Counts, said that ageism was perpetuated because of conditioning that older people were of lesser value and less able.

“When there are these ingrained prejudices, they perpetuate stereotyping and discrimination and ultimately even the mistreatment that has occurred against older Australians including in health services, employment and, of course, in aged care.”

Do you believe 50 is the new 30? Is 60 the new 40? Do you feel your age? Has age empowered you?

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Written by Janelle Ward


Total Comments: 21
  1. 0

    I’m 72, had a renal transplant, still teach school 2 days a week, go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, am slimmer and fitter than I was at 50. Yes, have aches and pains and lots of appointments, but don’t feel old (even though I am)!

    • 0

      I’m the same – more old injuries than you can count, eight stents (no transplants) , aches and pains, but still galloping like a gazelle… at 70 … looking for a job … already doing renos etc on house … and often mistaken for mid-50’s… and good mates with a young lass who works at the club… nothing nasty there… just mates… on the same plane ..

    • 0

      .. wanting to get back into surfing… good exercise….

    • 0

      No, you’re not old, Mum, think how young you’ll regard 72 when you’re 92.

  2. 0

    We have people in their 90’s who have been regularly attending our exercise classes for 30 years. One our oldest at 97 fell and shattered her pelvis a few months ago was told she would never walk again, was up and walking in under three weeks and came to our 60th birthday party last Friday. The only place the stereotypical image exists is in the media and guess where its perpetuated. At 54 Im slimmer, fitter and healthier than I’ve ever been. Lost 57 kilos and dow to a size 12. Perhaps the media might like to take notice of things like the masters games and what many community centres and groups have been doing for decades!
    My choice is prevention rather than cure and Im training as a health coach to help others!

    • 0

      I have competed in the Australian and World Masters games winning gold in my event each time!

      The only problem is that ‘masters’ can be 25 or 30 in some sports! Also any publicity does tend to focus on the very old 90+ which is great but people need to see themselves represented. If not it is too easy to dismiss theolder competitor as some sort of natural freak and unattainable for them.

  3. 0

    It all depends on your state of health. I’m only 57, but suffer from multiple chronic health conditions (e.g. I require haemodialysis, and can’t get a transplant.). I feel old, fragile, decrepit.

    • 0

      Intellgo, one can see that, at the moment, you’re not in a good place. But the main thing is that you recognise this and so from here there’s only one way to go, and that’s up. How about starting your health recovery with some light 1kg to 5kg hand weights and a walk around the block, gradually increasing your pace. Let’s know how you’re getting on.

    • 0

      I agree Sheriff. There is always something physical you can do (unless perhaps if you are in an iron lung) which is beneficial to both physical and mental health. For someone who is accustomed to doing nothing, doing even 5 minutes of walking, or as you say lifting cans of beans, or even just 5 minutes of sitting to standing is absolutely achievable and beneficial.

  4. 0

    The Liberal government don’t help when they class OAP as welfare recipients.
    I’m 70 and in better shape than that fat idiot that runs the country.

  5. 0

    I am 74, have 7 stents, work 16 hours a week, ride my bike200 ks a week. Fitter than most 40 year olds, life is great

  6. 0

    Usually I feel a lot less than my true age, other days a bit older, depends which aches and pains are around, but my mind still feels young. I’m 77, live on my own, had open heart surgery 4 years ago and two knee replacements on the same leg, due to an infection. I do stretching exercises, like my dear Dad, who lived to his 90s, and walk on a treadmill most days. I think myself lucky, but I don’t feel old.

  7. 0

    I’m 72, had colon cancer, liver cancer and lung cancer. 12 months of chemo and follow ups.
    Walk 30 minutes each day, faster than most. Worked until I was 69 and would still be working if my employer had not decided I was ‘too old’ after 18 years in the job. 70 is the new 40.

  8. 0

    No, 50 is not the new 30 nor 60 40.

    50 is 50, 60 is 60 and so on. Each age has its own rewards and challenges. Mostly it is our own mind that dictates what we can and can’t do. How many times have you said (or at least thought it) “I’m too old for that”? It is that thought alone that stops people joining pole dancing, surfing or martial arts or anything else. And if you think it, you can’t blame anyone else if they think it too.
    Age alone is not a barrier to what you want to do.

  9. 0

    I’m 74 and feel like a baby: I have no hair, no teeth and I think I’ve just fouled me britches.

  10. 0

    Just another way tof saying we living longer & shouldn’t get a pension til we’re 90!

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