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'I’m in it to win it': Training for the Senior Olympics

A person wearing athletic clothing and a medal walks along a park path
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81-year-old Al Lamb trains for the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics.

Northern Virginians are preparing for the region's next games.

Al Lamb, 81, is “enjoying life to the fullest” as an amateur athlete.

“I exercise every day, and I'm always looking for a challenge,” he said. One of the things I do to stay active, stay healthy, I train to participate in the

As part of that, Lamb trains for the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO). Lamb has already competed in seven NVSO Games. He previously won a bronze medal for the 800-meter walk and a silver for the 5K walk, but he’s not stopping there. This year, he’s going for the gold.

“I've got to step it up,” he said. “I want to win gold before I leave this world.”

“I want to win gold before I leave this world.”
Al Lamb

The next NVSO Games are scheduled for Sept. 9–24 in venues across Northern Virginia. Lamb has amped up his rigorous training schedule to compete. His routine includes exercising twice a day, for roughly four hours, walking multiple miles every day, swimming and then weight training in the gym every other day.

And he’ll keep up this regimen until the games in September.

“I’m in it to win it,” he declared with a big smile.

Ed Holder, president of the Four Seasons at Historic Virginia HOA in Dumfries, noted as he watched Lamb working out, “He [Lamb] is just an inspiration to all. I hope to be in nearly as good a shape as he is when I'm in my 80s.”

“Every day is a training day for me. I'm not there to socialize. I'm there to train.”
Al Lamb

While Lamb has always been an active person, he said an accident 12 years ago changed his life forever.

“In 2010, I decided to shovel the snow on my deck,” Lamb said. “I could barely stand up straight. For the next nine months, I would have muscle spasms day and night.”

While recovering from that back injury, he discovered a Strength Training for Seniors class that brought him pain relief and hope.

“One of the things I was instructed to do is go to the mall, walk for five minutes and rest for three minutes,” Lamb said. “It led to me being able to walk for an hour. And now, I walk every day.”

The back injury also inspired Lamb to focus on his diet; he's been a vegetarian since 2010. “When I became a vegetarian, I learned to cook, and I enjoy all of my meals,” he said. “I eat four greens usually a day as dinner — broccoli, asparagus, doesn't matter which four.”

Lamb served in the Navy for three years as an electrician’s mate, which provided training for his career at AT&T, Siemens and IBM. He has three daughters who live in Atlanta, Houston and San Diego. They are proud of their father and excited that he’s going for the gold once again.

Lamb said his improved mental and physical fitness enables him to do things he enjoys like reading, listening to music and studying up on new technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Al Lamb’s advice for older adults is simple: “You got to start somewhere, you’re not going to get healthier, feel better and get fit, feel like I do at 81 — better than I did when I was 68. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that exercise is one of the most important activities that older adults can do to maintain their health. That regular physical activity impacts brain health and can reduce the risk of dementia, anxiety and depression. It can also improve sleep and prevent or delay health problems. The CDC recommends walking for 30 minutes, five days a week and doing muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

“The healing power of exercise can help me stay strong, healthy and fit.”
Al Lamb

It’s even simpler for Lamb.

“Exercise motivates me to get up the next day and start doing it again,” Lamb said. “I just love it.”

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