|Posted on December 11, 2017 at 5:00 PM|
Had I the good fortune to receive compensation for every time I heard the statement "I used to be able to (fill in the blanks)," I'd be a millionaire right now. There is a commonly held assumption that age dictates one's capacity to perform physical activity and improve or maintain body composition. Clearly, the body as any living organism, has a finite existence and will eventually complete the natural life cycle. From birth to around the late 20s to early 30s, our muscles grow larger and stronger. Subsequently, we start to lose muscle mass and function, a process known as sarcopenia. However, much of the deterioration and decline assigned to old-age is simply the effect of inactivity.
The most effective way to counter physical decline and deterioration at any age is through consistent activity. Many of my personal training clients are demonstrating the remarkable capacity to improve performance and build muscle well into their 60s and beyond. The best defense against sarcopenia is exercise, specifically resistance or strength training. These activities increase muscle strength and endurance using free weights, cables, resistance bands, body weight, and a variety of new technologies.
Resistance training helps your neuromuscular system and improves the body's ability to convert protein to energy. A periodized training program of resistance, cardiovascular and flexibility training, incorporating the proper repetitions, intensity, and frequency is important for achieving maximum benefit with the least risk of injury. Mid-and long-distance runners continue to make improvements in their pace and distances through proper injury-free training.
Just to be clear, one's fitness potential will not be as great at age 60 as it would be at age 20, but the capacity for improvement still remains. Since most individuals never achieve their youthful potential, there is no true barometer to measure this potential against their accomplishments in later years.
The take home message is: Stop worrying about what you were once able to accomplish and focus on the NOW. I see amazing results from clients who no longer allow the ghost of their youthful potential to influence their present day results. The wisdom of age has taught them that their capacity for progress is yet to be determined.