When industrialization put workers firmly on the never-ending treadmill that produced the consumer goods of the Victorian world, the ability to play was, in a large part, lost to the working man. Play had been barred to his female partner many years before. Her life had been filled with the need to make do and feed her family when her mate was an ag lab, when industrialization came in, she had the same role and/or became a factory hand herself.
With the growth of leisure and the expansion of the sporting world, men of all stripes were gradually included in the fun. As they agitated for more power, and attitudes toward them changed, women were able to join in more activities that showcased their abilities rather than their helpless beauty. Children, of course, naturally gravitated to play. But there was one other group that rarely figured in play or the sporting world, a group that included members of both sexes, those who were labelled “the elderly”.
It seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon that age is becoming less of a barrier to an active life. Even in professional sports the retirement ages for some players are becoming later and later. For the hoi polloi, activity is encouraged at older ages with stories of successful elders being cited as inspiration to the rest. One of these inspiration heroes was Olga Kotelko, who competed in track and field well into her 90s.
While most people can’t aspire to record breaking sports stats in their later years, it is possible to remain active as long as mobility remains. Take a fitness class, join a gym or activity group no matter what your age. Your body will thank you for it.