If anyone embodies the ideals of healthy living and longevity, it appears there's no one better suited for the role than Robert Marchand.
He's been doing all the right things for quite awhile now; eating well, exercising frequently and steering clear of dangerous habits. And as a result, despite his advancing age, there's little to slow him down – including an hour-long bike ride.
Which broke a world record.
At the age of ... 105.
To those who know him, the indefatigable Frenchman once again demonstrated that adhering to the tenets of good health pays off handsomely, this time with a ride of slightly more than 14 miles in 60 minutes, the longest ever for anyone his age. The 5-foot centenarian accomplished the feat at the Velodrome National, France's top bicycle-riding venue, before being showered with applause (and TV interview requests) following his 92-lap, record-breaking journey.
Marchand, born in the French town of Amiens in 1911, rediscovered his love for cycling at age 68 and since has set a series of records over the last 37 years. But he'd never had achieved such success had it not been for his sensible lifestyle regimen.
His raison d'etre, if you will, includes "a lot of fruits and vegetables, no smoking, just the occasional glass of wine and exercising on a daily basis," according to Marchand's coach Gerard Mistler, who spoke Wednesday to the Associated Press after his good friend's historic ride. "He never pushed his limits, goes to bed at 9 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m.," Mistler added, "there's no other secret."
Given his lifetime of smart, health-related choices, if the American Council sought out someone who personified our beliefs – regarding exercise for older folks, food consumption, harm reduction and benefits of sleep – we'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better candidate.
Moreover, as he aged, Marchand never lost sight of an essential goal: "One needs to keep his muscles working," he said. He reportedly "rides every day on his home trainer and puts himself through outdoor training sessions on the road when the weather is good enough."
And interestingly, even when Marchand briefly veered away from sound dietary recommendations, in doing so he now helps remind us about the value of a balanced diet. Prior to Wednesday he gave up eating meat for roughly a month, having read about cruel treatment of animals in the production process. As a result, Marchand's lost muscle mass and his performance suffered. (He also missed his 10-minute warning at the end of the event.) Three years earlier during his one-hour ride he covered an additional 4.3 kilometers (or about 2.6 miles).
"If he starts eating meat again and builds more muscle, he can better this mark," said Marchand's physiologist, Veronique Billat.
Of course, stepping back, whether his time improves in the future is besides the point. Marchand's inspirational approach to healthy living has already won us over.