What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives

Bruce Grierson woke up one morning feeling much older than his chronological age of 47: "Age flooded in all at once." Enter Olga: a 90-something competitive runner who seems indefatigable in both body and spirit. In What Makes Olga Run?, Grierson decides to unravel the mystery of Olga's health, vitality and longevity. He quickly learns that 70%-75% of longevity is lifestyle--particularly physical exercise. Like our paleontological ancestors, our bodies are designed to move. Short intense bursts of exertion, accompanied by continual activity throughout the day, encourage mental acuity, restorative slumber and a positive outlook.

Olga grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan with a high tolerance to cold weather; she eats very little processed food and experiences polyphasic sleep cycles, which involve two periods of sleep with a time of quiet wakefulness in the middle. During her "night watch," Olga massages her muscles, encouraging an interoceptive ability to become attuned to her body's signals, which prevent her from overextending as a competitive athlete. Thirty-five years as a teacher and the other personal challenges she overcame (like leaving her abusive marriage) also helped forge cognitive acuity and grit.

Grierson discovered five qualities of personality that contribute to longevity: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and a lack of neuroticism. Spending time with Olga, he also began to feel better, younger and healthier. Although he maintains a self-depreciating sense of humor throughout What Makes Olga Run?, his demeanor lightens. Olga is bound to have a similar effect on readers as well. --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

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