Fitness: Not Just a Young Person’s Game
Unlike the taste of a fine Chianti, athletic performance is not something that gets better with age. Though each of us ages differently, time has a way of slowing us down both mentally and physically, making the positive impacts of anti-aging treatments of great benefit to many.
But there are other supplemental strategies that can also help you retain the fitness of youth. Though the old adage may claim that time makes fools of us all, you don’t have to give in to the idea that it’s impossible to stay fit over 40—it’s not. Making healthy lifestyle choices like eating well and exercising intelligently can help you prolong your athletic ability and beat the clock by staying healthy your entire life.
The Physical Benefits of Youth
Take a look at a selection of Olympic athletes and you’ll likely notice one attribute they share: the majority of them are in their 20s and some are even younger than that. Though sports like equestrian, sailing and shooting may be possible for older athletes, most of the physically-demanding events are dominated by those who haven’t yet spent three decades on Earth.
This is because regardless of sport, the march of time has a serious effect on compromising our motor function, balance, muscle strength and endurance. Physical performance at an elite level typically peaks at age 35 and declines slowly until age 50, when it tends to rapidly worsen. Years can often reveal themselves in injuries or muscle imbalances, putting a damper on the workout efforts of many as they advance in age.
Turning Back the Clock
The decline of physical ability may be inevitable, but this doesn’t mean that all fitness has to fade. Take Dana Torres for example, who became the oldest swimmer to ever compete in the Olympics when she made the 2008 Beijing team at age 41—and she won three silver medals.
You may be quick to dismiss examples like Dana as the exception rather than the rule, but this is a mistake. Though we often look at Olympians as super humans with physical abilities beyond that of us normal folks, this may become a self-fulfilling prophecy that prevents us from reaching what we’re capable of.
With enough dedication and care, you too can stay fit as you age. Rather than time making fools of us, a more accurate adage of aging may be “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” To keep your physical abilities regardless of age, try implementing some of these tips.
- Lift weights. Muscle means strength, but this amounts to more than just picking up heavy objects. The more muscle you have, the stronger your overall body composition will be. Your bone density will increase to fight off the troubling bone-related injuries that many aging people may be familiar with, while strength and resistance training can also do wonders for your metabolism. Try beginning with three days a week of full-body strength training, focusing on major muscle groups in the chest, back, shoulders, arms, abs and legs. A good starting point may be three sets of eight to 12 reps, but if this makes you feel excessively sore or exhausted you may want to decrease the weight or frequency of your sessions.
- Stay loose. Tight muscles and a reduced range of motion can often spell disaster for aging athletes, creating a common source of injury and loss of balance. Because of this, retaining your flexibility is one of the most important factors in keeping yourself physically fit. Try incorporating dynamic stretches into your workout, which improve your flexibility while also warming you up for more athletic activities. You can also incorporate foam rolling exercises or massage to improve your flexibility.
- Eat right. Nutrition is a huge factor in any athlete’s performance, but may be most important for aging athletes. Keeping your energy levels high and your recovery times short will take a careful balance of proteins, carbohydrates and nutritious fruits and veggies. Age and lots of exercise can also come with nutritional deficiencies, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting plenty of all essential nutrients. Deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and folate are especially common, so talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking supplements to keep as healthy as possible.
Age may slow us down, but it doesn’t have to bring your fitness to a standstill. With anti-aging treatments and careful dedication to a healthy lifestyle, you too can stay fit and strong as you age.