Tom Hafey is dead. He was 82 years old and died of a brain tumour. For those not in the know, Tom Hafey was the four time premiership coach of the Richmond Football Club. But that is not what disturbs me. What disturbs me is that he was also a fitness fanatic. He rose every day at 5.20 am went for an 8 km run, followed by 250 push-ups and a swim in the bay. When he got home he did 700 crunches. Despite all this his lifespan was only marginally above the Australian average.
My mother also died when she was 82, also of a brain tumour. While she did not share Tom Hafey’s devotion to physical fitness she was obsessed with diet and nutrition, buying organic and consuming truckloads of vitamins, herbs and various other supplements. She finished up marginally below the average age for Australian women.
I realise that these are only two people and those statistics are the result of number crunching many thousands of lifespans. They do not represent hard and fast rules but probabilities. I am sure that for every fit person who dies prematurely there is a decrepit chain smoker that lived into his nineties.
However, I too have an above average interest in diet and fitness, hitting the gym three days per week and, until recently, running four days per week. And that is why the fates of Tom Hafey and my mother disturb me.
Dr. F. Bunny