Regularly, inspiration for the day’s post comes from my workout or menu, often from readers and occasionally, my muse appears in the form of an old man. When that occurs, I have no choice but to whip out my phone and grab a few notes.
While at the track by my house to get in my sprint workout, I watched an old dude throwing a discus around on a football field. He was likely 80 or so, and I pondered silently, “Shouldn’t he be on a stationary bike or in a pool swimming laps? C’mon, man, you’re going to hurt yourself.” Chuckling, I knelt down to commence my sprint ritual and realized he was probably thinking the same thing about me.
We all have times when we deem it imperative to take a day off from our workout program. Skipping a day because you’re sick isn’t going to cause you to lose any substantial athleticism, but miss several in a row and you’ll encounter noticeable fallout. From sportsmedicine.about.com:
Losing fitness when you stop working out, also called detraining or deconditioning, is one of the key principles of conditioning. The principle of use/disuse simply means that when we stop exercising, we generally begin to decondition, and lose both strength and aerobic fitness. Most of us need to stop exercising on occasion for any number of reasons. Illness, injury, holidays, work, travel and social commitments often interfere with training routines. When this happens, we will often see a decline in our level of conditioning.
As we get age, this notion becomes even more bankable. It takes me significantly longer to train up to playing in even a friendly sporting event like pickup hoops than it did during my MLB days, and I recover from them at a considerably slower pace. As we slide gracefully into our late thirties and beyond, perceptions change about how we’re supposed to exercise. It’s those 30s and older years, however, when it’s imperative to preach to our muscles, tendons and ligaments that they must remember how to withstand the force and impact of said physical challenges.
That man I saw in his 80s throwing the discus? He was pretty adept. I imagine he didn’t just yesterday roll out of bed and start tossing that thing around. My point? Use it or lose it.
How can you stay on point or get started?
- Walk hills
- Do body weight explosive movements like burpies or squat jumps.
- Agility ladders are a great way to maintain overall coordination and athleticism.
- Swim aggressively
- Run multi directionally, i.e. in arcs, straight ahead at angles.
Your ideal option, however, is to start or maintain a strength training regimen. As you get older, the coordination and muscle derived from lifting heavy weights aids in managing every physical aspect of your life. Studies from Tufts University compared strength training to other forms of exercise and concluded:
Scientific research has shown that exercise can slow the physiological aging clock. While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits-it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance-it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does.
The benefits of strengthening those muscles can’t be overstated. From the CDC:
Research has shown that strengthening exercises are both safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with health concerns—including heart disease or arthritis—often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights a few times each week.
Just a few benefits from weight lifting illuminated by the CDC include reducing symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain and depression.
Perceptions of how we “should” be exercising change as we get age. Ignore them. Keep proudly doing your thing. If you haven’t started, now is the time. And remember to tell me about it. I’ll go dust off my pom-poms.