From stair climbing skyscrapers to walking football and ultra-marathon running, over-50s across the UK are rejecting the notion of traditional retirement and embracing physical activity.
‘Luckily, I have a really good training course round the corner from where I live,’ says Arthur. ‘Jacob’s Ladder, which takes a direct route up part of Cheddar Gorge, is 274 steps – so I’m working up to do it four times in a row.’
For cross training, Arthur is warming up with the South Downs Trekathon in June: 26 miles of hard walking over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, again raising funds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity
'I played a lot of rugby in the past,’ he says, ‘and I still love setting myself a challenge. I’ve done the London Marathon recently, so the distance doesn’t worry me!’
Just two years younger than Arthur, David Exell had his eyes on an even more daunting challenge: the fearsome Marathon des Sables, which comprised running, walking or jogging 150 miles over six days across the Sahara in temperatures that can top 50 degrees Celsius.
David completed the Marathon des Sables, becoming the oldest Briton to ever do so. He completed it for charity, his chosen good cause was the Bristol Area Stroke Foundation.
My training regime included two-hour night runs across some of the steepest parts of the Mendips, as well as gruelling sessions on a treadmill in heat chambers – both while wearing 10kg back packs filled with my grandchildren’s dumbbells!
If all this sounds rather exhausting, and your preference is for team over individual sporting activities, then Allen Baynes has the perfect answer: walking football.
Allen was a keen player in his youth – though, as he readily admits, at a modest level in his native Liverpool. But when a good friend suggested he take it up again, this time playing walking football in a team organised by his local Age UK group in Shrewsbury, he was less than enthusiastic.
‘I thought he was joking,’ says Allen. ‘How can you play football at a walking pace? But I gave it a go, and ten minutes in I turned to my mate and said, ‘This is brilliant!’