AGE OF How this octogenarian author and triathlete stays fit—and super busy.



Don Ardell was into REAL wellness before wellness was, well, a thing. In fact, the 81-year-old helped spark the personal health movement back in 1977 when he turned his doctoral dissertation into a best-selling book on the topic,  High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease.  And although he eschews the guru label (“when it comes to wellness, you have to be your own guru,” he says), Ardell has indeed positioned himself as a leading voice in the personal health sector for several decades.

Today, Ardell continues to practice what he preaches through a holistically healthy lifestyle. A seven-time triathlon age-group world champion, he trains some 25 hours a week swimming, biking and run- ning. Ardell, who splits his time between Gulfport, Florida and Madison, Wisconsin, remains a prolific writer, sending out weekly editions of his newsletter,  The Ardell Wellness Report (he has published nearly 800 to date). And in April, he released his 15th book, a co-written tome called  Not Dead Yet: World Tri- athlon Champions 75+ Offer Tips for Thriving & Flourishing in Later Life.

Ardell, a grandfather of three, didn’t have to dig too deep to find the subjects in his latest book. After all, most of them are friends he’s made while traveling around the country—and the world—for races. Like Ardell, they have several major multisport titles to their names. But Ardell is keen to credit their success to a mindset rather than any physical prowess they may possess.

“It’s not about getting or staying faster and stronger at an older age,” Ardell says of  Not Dead Yet ’s premise. “It’s about people who don’t bemoan the fact that they can’t do the things that they used to do. They’re open-minded, they travel. They are constantly seeking to improve themselves. They have lifestyle qualities known to promote successful aging, and that’s some- thing that’s inspirational to the old and the young.”

Ardell says his subjects in  Not Dead Yet  squeeze everything they can out of life, while placing stock in both personal happiness and health. This zesty approach to living has worked well for Ardell, who won his age-group in all five of the races he entered last season. Even a stroke in 2015 only slowed him down for a couple of seasons. He says his ability to balance work and training nearly every single day is rooted
in a consistent routine, his diet (he and his wife, Carol, also a triathlete, are vegans) and, of course, his dedication to living well and maintaining a mind-body connection.

“REAL wellness is not a movement or a trend, or even simply staying fit and eating well,” he says. “It’s comprehensive and also entails critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and the quest for added purpose in life. It’s living life the way you want to live it.”

Ardell—who has a 2:38 marathon PR to his name—knows he’ll never be as fast as he once was. But that won’t stop him from continuing to race triathlon, or from greeting the future with open arms.

“Aging is not always pleasant but, like gravity and evolution, it’s part of life, at least for everyone fortunate enough to attain such status,” he says. “The later years can offer won- derful opportunities.”


A Day Like Don

5:30 A.M. Wake up. Coffee and toast with blueberries and jam, along with peanut butter or oatmeal with soy milk and fruit

7 A.M . 20-mile bike ride on the nearby Pinellas trail

9:30 A.M. Shower, second cup of coffee, then turn on the computer. “I’ll read the paper, talk to my friends on the phone, answer emails, and write,” Ardell says.

12 P.M. Light snack. “I usually skip lunch and try to have an early dinner.”

1:30 P.M. Gym with Carol. “We work out together. We’ll swim, or I’ll hop on the treadmill. I also do strength training two times a week.”

3:30 P.M. Home for a midday nap

6 P.M. Dinner during the nightly news. “Carol is a very good cook. She makes meals loaded with salads, grains, beans, and rice.”

8 P.M. Read or catch up on TV. “We like Downton Abbey,” Ardell says.

10 P.M. Lights out