We have this idea that once someone is over the age of fifty it’s time to slow down, stop intense exercise, and take up more leisurely hobbies. The truth couldn’t be further. For many of the 50+ crowd, this can be a great time to take back your health. Kids are away in college or starting a career, home life is balanced, and your career is firmly established. For all those years you have invested into others, it is time to start investing in yourself.
The Importance of Exercise as We Age
For most bodies, functional abilities—balance, coordination, flexibility, “fast-twitch” abilities–begin to decrease around age 40. Reduced exercise and reduced general movement encourages an increased rate of loss of these abilities, as well as muscle shortening, osteoporosis, weight gain, arthritis, poor circulation, and high blood pressure. As we continue to age, muscular strength and cardiovascular capacity decrease exponentially if there is no intervention, leaving us with all the ingredients for a myriad of health complications.
“What Can I Do?”
Anything you want! Now is the time to cultivate a talent you’ve always admired or take up an activity you’ve always wanted to try. Despite the sobering statistics about depleting abilities and strength, routine exercise that provides cardiovascular work as well as muscular strength and conditioning isn’t just for preventing health decreases; masters athletes can make fitness gains at any age!
Masters athletes also know a thing or two about their bodies. They’ve been around the injury and burn out blocks before and know when to tone it down or take a step back. Unfortunately older bodies don’t heal as quickly as younger ones, so it’s crucial to listen to these intuitive signals.
No matter your activity of choice, it is important to include functional training and resistance training. Although you might not see initial gains in your sport of choice, these exercises are essential for maintaining day-to-day abilities and remaining injury-free. Work with a trainer to develop a program that meets you where you are now, provides proper progressions, and focuses on masters-specific exercises such as balance drills, proper form, unilateral exercises, and movement in all planes of motion.
The anecdotal evidence of adults beginning activity, remaining fit, or ramping up the volume is everywhere. Look no further than the master’s category of your local 10k to find inspiration of being fit over fifty. Here at Upper Echelon, we work with all types of 50+ athletes and athletes-to-be. Whether it is doing your first push up or training for a bicycle century ride, our knowledgeable staff can help you safely and confidently reach your goals.
Annie Bertucio is a National Strength and Conditioning Association certified trainer at Upper Echelon. Her work with special populations, including masters athletes and elderly, have shown her that it’s never too late to fall in love with exercise.
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