Does Fitness have an age limit? One of the questions I get asked a lot is the old ‘I’m X years old and it gets harder and harder to lose weight. Am I too old to get fit?’ Well, there are actually two questions being asked. One is the ‘lose weight’ and the other is ‘to get fit’. The former can be the result of the latter but better leave that for another post. So let’s explore the age-old dilemma of ‘get fit’.
What does this mean? That is the follow-up question one needs to ask: ‘That’s a great question Soledad. What does getting fit and being fit mean to you? Once you flush out their interpretation of these concepts, you are more informed to answer them in a professional, well-informed matter. But for the most part, many will respond with the following: ‘Well, Al, I want to be able to keep up with their grandkids. Maybe in the process, lose a couple of pounds. And gain some strength while I’m at it. Also I’d like to wake up one morning free from aches and pains. But quite frankly, I just want to look good!’ Vanity? Sure, that’s healthy. For most primetime (50-70 years old) individuals, their brain functions at a much higher level than before. They are more confident in who they are. And just want the outside to reflect the inside.
Here are some crazy statistics about the aging U.S population. Between 2000 and 2010, the 45 to 64 population grew 31.5 percent to 81.5 million, and now makes up 26. 4 percent of the total U.S. population. This rapid growth is due to aging of the Baby Boom generation.?Each year 3.5 million Boomers turn 55.?As of 2012, the number of people 55+ years of age is about 100 million. By the year 2035, 1 in 5 people are expected to be 65 years old or older. WOW!
There was a time when a person over the age of 50 was considered over the hill and to think one can make any advances in their fitness goals was about a fantastical as finding the fountain of youth. But how times have changed! Lets’ look at some people who have taken their fitness levels to new heights:
1)?Dr. Charles Eugster, a 93-year-old British bodybuilder
?Yes, you read that right! Here’s a gentleman who didn’t start ‘getting fit’ until his 70’s! Now, Eugene is definitely in the minority but the message is clear.?”If you have taken care of your old car, it won’t cost you so much,” Eugster said. “But if you have neglected your car, it’s going to cost you a lot.” For his story go here:
2) Ernstine Shepherd, 75
?Incredible! What makes Ernestine remarkable is that she was able to turn back the clock hormonally and biologically so that her physique looks young. No small feat indeed. Again, the exception but the message is clear: “I plan to keep doing bodybuilding shows,” the World Record holder said. “There’s no reason you can’t be 80, and strutting your stuff.”
3) Jack LaLanne, died at age 96 (apparently death was bad for his image)
The godfather of the modern fitness movement was an incredible individual. Not only was he in great shape, he also displayed feats of endurance and strength.?At 60 he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman?s Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat. At 70, handcuffed and shackled again, he towed 70 boats, carrying a total of 70 people, a mile and a half through Long Beach Harbor. Genetically gifted? Probably but the message again is crystal clear: ‘So many older people, they just sit around all day long and they don’t get any exercise. Their muscles atrophy, and they lose their strength, their energy and vitality by inactivity.’
Now let’s look at some of the science that debunks the myth that you can’t get fit after you reach a certain age.
Exercising in your 70’s may stop brain shrinkage:?http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20026099
Aging well through exercise:?http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/09/aging-well-through-exercise/
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy:?http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106191907.htm
Exercise mistake that can age you:?http://bit.ly/kWBMsg
Well I hope I have made my case as to the benefits of exercise at any age, especially as you get older. The one common thread for Charles, Ernestine, and Jack was ‘resistance training’! A proper weight training program has the potential of sculpting your body at any age, put that pep back in your step and add years to your life. Granted these are the exceptions?however one should apply the basic approach to aging as these people have and implement small changes day to day, month to month, year to year.