- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
It's one major accomplishment to live past the age of 100, but another to still be competing in athletic competitions at that age. That is what the world's oldest female athlete, Ida Keeling, a track and field sensation from Harlem, NY, did until near her death in 2021 at 106 years old.
Along with her persistence, Ida owed her health and longevity to some other factors, including her diet. According to her daughter, Shelley Keeling, who spoke with Women's Running, Ida consumed lots of fruits and vegetables to help sustain her longevity.
"She ate and drank everything [in terms of] fruits and vegetables, as well as small amounts of meat, and all of her body's organs and systems were functioning in excellent condition," Shelley says in the article.
It has been recently discovered that going outside and feeling connected to the outdoors helps to eat more fruits and vegetables. Evidently, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables contains lots of nutrients that can impact your health. Some benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, preventing certain cancers, and lowering the risk of eye and digestive problems. They can also have a positive effect on your blood sugar.
Sign up for our newsletter!
Along with her healthy eating habits, Ida also owed her longevity to her high level of exercise and activity.
Although newer to the running game, Ida had been active all her life. She loved riding bikes and jumping rope as a child. She began running races at the age of 67 thanks to her daughter, who is also an avid runner. At the time, Keeling was severely depressed from losing her husband and her two sons. That is when Shelley decided to sign herself and her mom up for a local 5K in Brooklyn. Not to mention, it was with only a day's notice.
"Mother initially thought I was just bringing her to watch me run the race and was surprised when I showed up at her house with a pair of sneakers," Shelley tells Women's Running. "I told her to just follow everyone else and had had no idea how her performance would be. But it never occurred to me that she couldn't finish the race, since she'd always been extremely active."
Once Ida finished the race, she was immediately hooked on the sport. She felt physically and emotionally lighter when she ran. She would continue from thereon out participating in local races, ranging from 5Ks to four or five mile-races.
From there, she was running and breaking records in the age groups of 95 to 99 and 100 to 104. In 2017, she fractured her femur and underwent surgery and rehab. Once fully recovered, she decided to run again, setting another record in 2018 at the age of 102.
"It was the thrill and the joy and how good she felt that kept her running," Shelley says. "She was extremely flexible and would say exercise and running were the best medicine."