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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Age is an excuse.

I was discussing the age old issue of age and exercise with some fellow trainers and thought I would make it into a blog. Even though most don't want to think about it, it will affect all of us at some point.

A lot of older people often ask tongue in cheek if I am still doing my job. Part of it is a misunderstanding as to what I actually do. I don't pound the streets, or teach 100 classes a month. I used to play competitive sport and have had my fair share of operations and injury. A younger Chris sat in my doctor's surgery with a frozen shoulder at the age of 16 reminds me of how I need to respect my body!!

Older people will always moan to those younger than them. A 90 year old will still moan to an 80 year old that they aren't as old as them!! It's quite funny when you hear it. Mostly it's the need to feel superior. Sometimes, it is regret or feeling sorry for themselves. I know, I have done it. However, I am noticing the 'age' argument coming into play with younger and younger people. Before we accept the age argument, I need to point out a few things.

Most people are out of shape and have poor condition. By condition, I mean readiness for activity. Exercise doesn't have to be a 10 mile run. It could be running for the bus, or playing with your kids. So when this group of people complain about age, we have to treat the sample population as a poor one. We can't base our beliefs and opinions on a society of people who can't negotiate their own body weight very well. We certainly shouldn't be making statements based on false conclusions either. "You look much younger than a 35 year old." When actually, you look EXACLTY like a 35 year old. The problem is, other 35 year old's look like they're 10 years older. Mainly because their diet is terrible and they don't exercise. The main thing all of my clients were told then they lost weight was how much younger they looked. However, there are other age related factors which we can't necessarily escape.

Your ability to build muscle mass.

VO2 max.

GI levels.

Fertility.

Enzymatic activity.

cognitive processes or capacity.

Myelination.

Reduction in IV disc space.

Wow, there is a lot to feel sorry for in the list above. However, Just because they are in decline, doesn't mean that they all cease to function. At first glance, one might think that we are screwed. However, despite those who think exercise, gyms and training are for those who are vain, there are scientists scrambling to replicate the effects of staying fit and active into old age. One example of this is muscle atrophy. Scientists have discovered that elderly people have less blood flow than younger people which seems to affect the supply of nutrients as well maintaining muscle mass and an optimum balance of hormones. The study showed after following a 20 week resistance training program, 3 times a week, the participants were able to restore the blood flow to that of a much younger person. This increase nutrient absorption and your ability to maintain muscle mass. The last thing you want to do is lose too much muscle mass as you age because it means you are getting weaker. Despite the perception of muscle, it has a function other than vanity.

Similarly, Myelin, which insulates nervous pathways to improve efficiency, drops off around the age of 50. However, you don't lose this ability completely. This isn't specific to exercise. It could be learning a language. Our body is able to keep itself young so long as it is exercised in the right way. I think it is crazy that in one corner, scientists are trying to reduce the aging process to improve health and fight disease. Then there are younger people who have the ability to do this but chose not to because they would rather just wait and get old. I think it is a sad waste.

I had a chat with a 72 year old and this is what he said. "Until recently, I used to lift heavy weights, but I still train. I also go rambling with other elderly people. I exercise my mind by reading and I'm still waiting for the decline to happen. I haven't felt a thing." Even though, life can deal us the unexpected, to do nothing, will take you closer to a life of degeneration. Quit with the excuses. It's ok to feel sorry for yourself, but don't blame your age. Change your expectations, get in the gym and start giving your body what it wants.

P.s My oldest client who is 65 bangs out 50 press ups.

Chris.

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