You’re still the athlete you always were, although your body may be telling you otherwise. The human body is extremely resilient but as we age, our range of motion decreases, muscle mass diminishes and metabolism slows. Father Time, unfortunately, is undefeated.
Nevertheless, triathlons and road races of all distances are populated by scores of middle aged and older athletes. It takes a commitment to good health and solid daily habits to achieve longevity as an athlete. How many of these everyday hurdles sound familiar?
With the possible exception of Zen masters, everyone gets a little stressed (or a lot) due to work pressures and other obligations. The human stress response serves valuable purposes, like helping us escape danger, but too much unchecked stress takes a toll on the body and causes muscular tension, insomnia and high blood pressure, among other consequences. All of which will harm your body and prevent you from maximizing your workouts.
Keepin’ Up With The Kids
Between baseball practice, birthday parties, parent-teacher conferences and the myriad activities on your child’s calendar, it’s difficult to find time to squeeze in a sweat. It’s not impossible but undoubtedly you have far less time to exercise than you did in your early 20’s. Seize every opportunity to hit the gym.
Get Up, Stand Up
There’s a sitting epidemic in America and it’s real. While many of our parents worked manufacturing or other physical jobs, many of us now spend upwards of 10 hours a day punching away at a keyboard, seated at a desk. That sedentary state leads to stiffness, carpal tunnel syndrome and a host of problems. Fight back by getting out of your chair regularly and walking around to keep your blood circulating. And consider using a standing desk or an under desk elliptical trainer.
Hitting the Hay
How much sleep do you get on an average night? Chances are it’s not enough. Doctors recommend that adults from ages 26 to 64 get about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. For many people, particularly parents of young children, that’s wishful thinking. But sleep matters — it’s your body’s ability to recover and restore itself. One key to better sleep is shutting off the TV or putting down the smartphone at least 30 minutes before you knock off, to give your eyes and mind time to unwind. One bit of good news is that regular exercise promotes better sleep.
No Time For The Postgame
During your athletic heyday you may have had time to sweat out toxins post-workout in the sauna, or sit in the whirlpool. If you still have time for that, great. If not, it’s still very important to spend a few least a minutes stretching to help your body recover, prevent injury and keep you primed for your next workout.
Once an athlete, always an athlete. You just have to identify ways to mesh your obligations with your physical goals. A 25th hour each day would help. Absent that, stretch, sleep well, and engage in stress-reducing activities like meditation and getting massages. And always make your health a top priority.