It’s going to happen to you. You can’t deny it. You’re going to get older. Whether you’re already and feeling it, or you’re in your 20’s or 30’s and feeling invincible, it’s going to happen! They say death and taxes are the two things in your life that are sure things. But what can we really do about it….what can we do to continue to feel young(er) as we age?
Well, there are lots of options out there – some with merit, some without. Juice cleanses, magic pills and drinks, you name it! But what’s practical and really works?
Several articles and “things” have come up lately that spawned this post. The first from The NY Times Wellness Blog, How Exercise Keeps Us Young. Good read. Good argument for being active!
Then there was this post I stumbled across …powerful!
Emily is in a group on FB I belong to. She’s obviously over 50, and not only “functional” (she’s outside doing fun things!) but looks to be a complete bad ass in fitness! If found her vibrant and inspiring. And at the same time, the point of her post is very sad. The most common mistake with older people and fitness: not strength training. As anabolic hormones in our bodies decline with age, the need to put more emphasis into adding muscle and building strength is greater. It’s important for independence – whether you’re 50 or 80.
And how can I exclude CrossFit Headquarters and the CrossFit Journal as another resource for proof and comment regarding activity and aging? One of the most powerful free documents out there from the Journal is What is Fitness? Within it there are numerous references to age and wellness or fitness. One notable comment on the CrossFit program itself and its’ scalability and applicability to varying age groups:
Scalability and Applicability
The question regularly arises as to the applicability of a regimen like CrossFit’s to older and deconditioned or detrained populations. The needs of an Olympic athlete and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. One is looking for functional dominance the other for functional competence. Competence and dominance manifest through identical physiological mechanisms.
We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.
Now, while I’m sometimes met with disagreement with the above when I add that the TRAINING of those over, 60, 70, 80 and yes 90 years of age needs some tweaks and specialty outside of what I learned at the CFL1, the needs are the same, but the training is more specialized. (That was a digression! More to come on that soon!)
Additionally, this article (above) addresses health specifically, in terms of general health with blood pressure, body composition, bone density, cholesterol, etc. This is CrossFit’s Sickness->Wellness Curve. It highlights the health benefits of being active on a continuum, placing fitness, not wellness, at the pinnacle or ultimate destination. We hear this a lot: can you be healthy and not active? The answer is no. Our bodies were designed to be active. (Reference: the book Move Your DNA)
Being “fit” is your daily multivitamin, annual checkup, and vaccinations…all in one. Just recently the Mayo Clinic published a report addressing the connection between aerobic capacity and and surviving COVID. Fitness is always a health insurance policy and it’s your choice. It’s not something you can get from a pill or a supplement. Just like anything worth anything, it takes time and effort, regardless of your age or current fitness level.
Physical activity certainly can’t stand alone in the fight against aging…it’s just part of the puzzle. You had to know I was going to go toward diet! This is also undeniable – you can’t achieve optimal health and wellness with a crappy diet. You can’t out-“exercise” a crappy diet either! And if you think you can, wait until you hit 40, or 50 years old. Disease and declining health caused by a poor diet is insidious. It’s the heavy 20 or 30 something that tells me her doctor said they’re healthy, even though they’re sorely overweight. Well, right now those blood markers aren’t showing the slow death of your future and decline of your health. It catches up with you. Damage done in your 20’s and 30’s is the worst – because you feel so good thanks to your youth that you think “not me”. I was there. I know. And all we can do now is prevent further damage. Imagine if we were in prevention mode in our 20’s and 30’s!
Of course, there’s a balance in life, and with all of this. Of course, stress-levels, happiness, safety and protection from the elements are also important components of a healthy life and healthy aging – I’m not excluding them. But here I am, preaching fitness today…I’ll preach to the other things later.
I’m very passionate on this topic, personally often struggling to get my workout in and plan my meals while planning and running a new fitness business and community. But one thing I’m not struggling with is the indisputable truth in the words above.