Older, Not Weaker
You may believe that growing older includes an inevitable decline from vitality to frailty. However, I know many people who would strongly disagree. Those people include…
- Professional athletes over 40 carrying their teams to success
- 70-year-old Senior Olympians running a 5:42 mile
- My PRIMA patients completing a 5k in only 12 weeks of training
And last but not least, me! As a scientist, I set out to prove that with a lifetime of mobility, we can actually preserve our bodies and youth. My favorite sportswriter, John Hanc, calls this the “Benjamin Button Fantasy.” But it is no fantasy. It’s real, and I can show you the research to prove it.
New Science… New You!
Chapter two of Fitness After 40 describes all the new and exciting research my colleagues and I have performed regarding active aging. By studying masters athletes (regular people who invest in everyday mobility) we have removed the variable of inactivity, challenging what current literature suggests our bodies are capable of as we age. I believe that the more you know, the better decisions you will make regarding your health. Without further introduction, here are some highlights of the research findings in Chapter Two of Fitness After 40.
Did You Know?
To continue to play hard, you have to play hard!
- By studying Senior Olympian track athletes whose performance times increased steadily starting at age 50 and more dramatically after the age of 75, I found that if you remain active, you should be able to maintain high independent functionality until the age of 75.
- This suggests that loss of functional independence before 75 is most likely due to disease, disuse, genetic predisposition, or destructive lifestyle.
- Sustained peak performance is seen in swimmers, triathletes, and weight lifters as well. One study recorded 85-year-olds with the weight lifting capacity of athletes 20 years younger. That’s right, two decades younger!
- Even when performance for these athletes dropped, the male winner at age 50 won with a time of 4:35 and the male winner at age 70 won with a time of 5:42. How amazing!
- So, although biology will eventually kick in, you can slow or reverse the process by playing harder than ever.
Hot For Your Health
Here are 5 reasons why chronic mobility is actually the fountain of youth:
- It strengthens your bones. High impact sports, or as I call it, “bashing your bones,” can preserve your bone density into your seventh and eighth decades. In determining bone health, I found that this is as important a variable as age, sex, and family history.
- It builds a stronger heart. In people aged 65 to 74, 40% of deaths are caused by heart disease. That rises to 60% in those over 80. That is bad news. But the good news is that as little as half an hour to an hour of jogging a week lowers the risk of early death of any cause by 30% and lowers the risk of death by heart attack or stroke by 45%.
- It preserves lean muscle mass. By preventing fatty infiltration of the muscle, chronic mobility keeps you strong. In one study, I found that a cross-sectional MRI of a chronically active 70-year-old’s thigh proved to be equally as beautiful as an active 40-year-old’s. When these images are compared to an MRI of a sedentary 74-year-old’s thigh, the difference is astounding.
- It improves common diseases. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the onset of diabetes can all be improved by daily exercise.
- Overall, it keeps you young. Sedentary people decline twice as fast as their active peers. Twice!
As you can see, getting older does not mean getting weaker. You must keep pushing yourself as you age so that your body stays strong and vital.