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August 8, 2016

6 Olympic Facts That Will Inspire You

by Amanda MacMillan

The 2016 Olympics are underway and are as amazing as always -- with swimmers, gymnasts, cyclists and others managing physical feats that the rest of us can’t even imagine. After all, most of us don’t exactly measure up to the world’s best athletes in terms of speed, strength, or skill. It can be hard to relate to their grueling workout schedules or their intense training diets. But we can be inspired by them, to get active and to set our own fitness-related goals -- whether that means training for a half-marathon, committing to a new morning exercise routine or shaving a few points off your golf game.

So in honor of this year’s Games, here are some of our favorite Olympic facts and figures. Keep them in mind as you follow the coverage over the next two weeks, and as you “go for the gold” in your own life, as well.


This year, there are 292 women competing for Team USA -- more women than are on any other country’s team. In fact, this year’s Olympics Games has more female athletes (about 45 percent overall) than ever before.


The sight of women playing sports at the highest level may have a trickle-down effect, encouraging more girls to get involved in athletics. Participation in girls’ soccer, for example, increased more than 45 percent in the United States from 1999 to 2014. (We’re guessing that the growing popularity of the women’s national team -- and its four gold medals -- may have something to do with that.)


Age is just a number! The oldest Americans competing in this year’s games are 52-year-olds Beezie Madden and Phillip Dutton, both equestrian athletes. Also competing in this year’s Games is the oldest female Olympic gymnast in history, Uzbekistan’s 41-year-old Oksansa Chusovitina.


Olympic road cyclists burned about 4,360 calories during their 159-mile road race (the men’s distance) this past weekend, according to calculations from the British company GB Energy Supply. Cycling -- indoors or outside -- is a great way for the rest of us to expend extra energy, too. You’ll burn 370 to 460 calories an hour pedaling at an easy (5.5 miles per hour) pace, and more if you turn up the intensity.


If your favorite sport isn’t in this year’s Games, you may have better luck next time. Five new or returning sports are being welcomed to the Olympics in 2020: Baseball and softball (considered one sport), karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.


NBC is streaming more than 6,000 hours of programming around this year’s Olympics. The spectacle is fun to watch, but make sure it doesn’t turn you into an armchair athlete for the next two weeks. Get up and move around during commercial breaks and between competitions -- or watch while you’re on the treadmill or exercise bike. Even better, let that Olympic inspiration motivate you to find some extra time for fitness while you’re not in front of the TV.