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Fitness and the ageing athlete

by Mark Clarke February 04, 2017

Fitness and the ageing athlete

Can You Stay in Peak Physical Shape as You Get Older?

Men and women are at their prime in their twenties and early thirties. However, it's a sad fact of life that as we age, our bodies begin to decay and die. Increasingly, more and more of us are waking up to the fact that being in poor shape leads to a range of illnesses and conditions that can be life-changing in later life.

As we age, our ligaments shorten and stiffen, lung and heart capacity decreases and our ability to build muscle all deteriorates. However,  studies 1 show that these changes are predominantly down to disuse than any physiological changes associated with ageing. Once we increase our activity, we regain much of the agility and vigour that we thought we’d lost for good.

There are numerous benefits of being physically fit - from being functionally strong enough to enjoy life to significantly  increased life expectancy 2. Here are some tips from our older athletes who are enjoying the benefits of being physically fit.

Get support

Making a schedule and then getting help from friends, family, and health and fitness professionals is the best way to achieve your fitness goals. Building a community around exercise, like in a  supportive assisted living situation, or with a local group, is another great way of harnessing collective motivation. Buddy-up and don’t try and go it alone!

Make it unequivocal

Once you make an excuse to miss your workout, you’ll find it easier to repeat this and avoid it the next time. Be unrelenting in your decision to commit. Our golden years can bring on aches, pains, and ailments that we didn’t suffer from as youngsters. However, simply getting off the couch and into your exercise gear, and making a sensible effort towards your objective is enough. Don’t deviate from your goals.

Take a holistic view

Proper nutrition, adequate sleep and recovery time between sessions, plus a professional approach to your regime are essential for those of us enjoying later life. As our bodies age, we have to adapt and train smarter to avoid injury and maintain consistency. It's not just the physical strain on the body - don’t neglect the psychological aspects of a fitness regime! Focus on the goal at hand and try using  concentrated mindfulness techniques 3 to get your mind as fit as your body.

- Jenny Holt, Freelance writer

 

References:

  1. Exercise and ageing: Can you walk away from Father Time? - Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School
  2. Muscle mass as a predictor of longevity in older adults - American Journal of Medicine, June 2014,  Volume 127, Issue 6, p 547–553
Mark Clarke
Mark Clarke


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