Do you see yourself hiking up mountains in your 80s? Or have you resigned yourself to becoming less and less fit as you age? How you age is largely dependent upon what you do to stay fit. While some people wear out, many more rust out. The good news is that it’s never too late to start!
FITNESS AND AGING
Just like death and taxes, there are a few truths from which we cannot hide. How we deal with those truths can result in not only a longer life, but a longer life of quality.
HERE ARE THE UNAVOIDABLE TRUTHS:
• Muscles shrink.
• Aerobic capacity decreases.
• Body fat increases.
As we age it takes longer to recover from a workout. Hills get steeper and weights get heavier. Even professional athletes face the ravages of time. So let’s fight back!
TRAINING AFTER 50
None of these tips are really new information. Think of them as reminders and affirmations rather than new miracle cures for aging. If you’re more than 50 years old, and out of shape,
FOLLOW THESE THREE SIMPLE RULES
Rule #1 – Embrace interval training. Interval training is good at any age, and even more so as we age. Your body will need time to recover – as well as time to warm up. Try this formula:
Your interval training could involve jogging, ellipticals, biking, walking or swimming. Just do it! Do interval training at least once per week.
- Warm up for 10 minutes.
- Vary high-intensity and low-intensity work in a 3:1 ratio. High-intensity is the “3” in that equation. For example, 90 seconds of sprinting and 30 seconds of jogging, or three minutes of speed walking and one minute of slow walking. In the beginning, your 3:1 work/rest routine could be for as little as five minutes. That’s OK.
- Cool down for another 10 minutes minimum.
Rule #2 – Pump some iron. Strength training not only keeps you strong enough to prevent falling, it builds (or retains) muscles that are needed to burn fat. Remember that muscles shrink as you age? Fight back with weight training.
Rule #3. Rest and recovery. This is always important, and even more so as you age. Pay attention to how tired you feel (don’t ignore fatigue), your mood, your resting heart rate and other physical signs. Even cold sores and a runny nose can be signs that you’re pushing it too hard.
MOTIVATION AFTER 50
If you think you can’t do it, think again. There could be just as many people pushing their way up hills as there are people pushing themselves along in walkers.
There are many success stories of fitness after 50. Why don’t you join the club?
- There is a minimum age for those running a marathon – but no maximum age. The upper age categories for marathons and half-marathons are typically 65-70, 70-74, 75-79 and 80+.
- Yuichiro Miura, a Japanese mountaineer, became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 80.
- 64-year-old long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person to swim across the Florida Straits from Cuba without a shark cage, succeeding on her fifth attempt at the feat. She swam for more than 53 hours. Nyad said, “We should never, ever give up .... You never are too old to chase your dreams.”
- Many major cities have clubs for “senior” bicyclists. Find one near you by searching for “active senior cycling.” French cyclist Robert Marchand, age 100, rode his bicycle on a track for 100 kilometers in 4 hours, 17 minutes and 27 seconds. That works out to about 14.3 mph, which is extremely impressive for a centenarian.