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Older athletes train for NYC Parks' Senior Games

New Yorkers over the age of 50 can compete in everything from swimming to pickleball to shuffleboard.

The NYC Parks Department is holding its annual

The NYC Parks Department is holding its annual Senior Games this spring to show city residents they can stay active at any age. Photo Credit: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

LeRoy Cummins runs five days a week. And those runs are never less than an hour long.

“To me running is like brushing my teeth, if I don’t do it, I don’t feel good,” he said.

It’s a formidable routine that’s all the more impressive when you find out the retired Con Edison customer service supervisor is 67 years old.

Cummins is one of the athletes participating in the fourth annual Senior Games sponsored by the city’s Parks Department.

People over the age of 50 can compete in a variety of activities ranging from track and field to swimming, pickleball and shuffleboard.

The games run from May 6 through 10 at several venues, but registration ends on March 31.

That gives newer athletes a month to hone their skills with a series of workshops at Parks Department Recreation Centers.

“It’s really important for us to serve all ages,” said Emily Chase, acting deputy commissioner of Urban Park Service and Public Programs at the Parks Department. “This allows adults over the age of 50 the ability to compete, have a social opportunity and meet new people.”

Cummins, who grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and still lives in Brooklyn, has been running since he was a teen. Along with easing stress, the practice has helped him manage his Type 2 diabetes without medication.

His runs can take him as far as Floyd Bennett Field and Riis Park. During last year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon, Cummins’ pace was 7 minutes and 37 seconds per mile.

“I like to encourage other people to become active,” he said. “It’s also good to let the younger people see older people still competing.”

Chase pointed out that people can also go for the gold in bowling, cornhole and board games.

“People can compete at a high level at any age,” she said. “And you want people of all abilities to be able to have a part in the action.”

More than 500 seniors from across the five boroughs took part in last year’s game, double the number from the previous year, according to the Parks Department.

First-, second- and third-place winners of each competition win awards, while all participants are recognized with giveaways and T-shirts.

While many of the athletes, like Cummins, have a membership to the city’s Recreation Centers, it’s not required to participate in the games. Members do have free access to the April training clinics.

Membership to the city’s recreation centers costs $25 for seniors who are 62 or older, as well as young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. It’s free for people under the age of 18 and $150 for adults between the ages of 25 and 61.

“As you get older and retire, some people become complacent,” said Cummins. “Exercise keeps you active and also keeps your brain active.”

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