No matter how old you are.
You can get fitter at any point in your life, no matter what, as long as you can move. This article is about how to do that. It is NOT about turning yourself into Thor. It IS about giving you energy, options and a better life.
If you are facing off with your mirror once again, and thinking, THIS HAS TO BE THE YEAR, you have excellent reason to hope.
1. It is never, ever, ever too late. While many of us in our mid-life years suddenly get exercise religion, plenty of folks much older may suddenly decide that the life of a couch potato isn't for them. If you're starting your workouts for the very first time this late, try looking at these options for an easy beginning.
The good news is that you are never too old. The bad news is that you really do need to begin gently, stick with it, and give your body time to adjust. No matter how old you are, you will reap the benefits of movement. Better blood flow, increased energy, better sleep, the list is endless.
2. If you were active and athletic earlier in life and you let things slide, it's all still there. Muscle memory is a beautiful thing. While you might have to coax some of that strength out of retirement, you can- and sometimes the results are amazing. Here is my favorite story of all time about that very thing:
He's hardly alone. The internet abounds with stories of women who didn't pick up a weight or start seriously swimming until very late. Now, they are unstoppable.
The good news is that these folks are just like you and me. They are typically not super geezers. They just made different, and better, decisions. And it has paid off handsomely.
I had terrific shoulders and delts before I had rotator cuff surgery in 2018. It took nearly a year to recover and get back to work. However, once I was back in the gym regularly, that shoulder size and strength came right back. I've learned to trust it.
3. Sometimes later in life is the best possible time for you and your body. If you have more time, the willingness to do the work, and the patience to work through the soreness, the sky is the limit. While you may not necessarily compete in the Senior Olympics, you might well surprise yourself. Another favorite story of mine is Pat Gallant-Charette, profiled her in Outside Online:
Pat is in her eighties, and doing things today she probably never imagined twenty years prior. That's the whole point. Sometimes we don't even begin to come into our own until past fifty.
The author (in green far left) finishing Everest Base Camp at 61 Julia Hubbel
The year I turned sixty, a friend threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to climb Kilimanjaro. I'd been lifting for years, but now I had to jump-start that program with stair running, cycling, swimming and a great deal more. By the time I topped the summit, I had transformed my body into a late-in-life athlete.
Okay, okay, my brother got the grace genes, so I'm clumsy. Still, since that year I have been to 47 countries, kayaked the Arctic Ocean, summited Mt Kenya and been all over the world doing adventure travel. In between I train like mad, if I'm not recovering from some fool injury. In that case I get better and then I train like mad.
Because if you do the things I do, if you're not in top shape, you can die. It's almost happened multiple times, and being able to trust my body is precisely what got me out of trouble.
Ten years ago I couldn't have imagined such a thing. However, I am no different from most folks. I'm not rich, I didn't inherit the "natural" genes. If there is a stick I will trip on it. If there is a ditch I will land in it. You get the drift. And if there is a snow drift...okay, okay.
Because like some of my fellow aging oldies, above, I refused to give up, slow down, or let injuries permanently sideline me, I heal from my various hurts and am back on horseback, in the kayak or on the trail in no time. Each year I push myself to learn a new sport. I laugh my way through the awkward bits.
The process of learning keeps the brain juicy, and besides, as a journalist, it gives me plenty of comedy fodder. Those of us who have decided to ask our bodies for work, get the payoffs. As you and I age, however, we learn to ask rather than demand, rest more than push through the pain, and trust the wisdom of our incredibly well-designed bodies to work as designed and trained.
Age is NO reason to quit being active. In fact, it's one very important reason to work even harder. Aging is not for the weak of heart. The older I get, the more I do, for the more I do, the more I can do.
I can't think of anyone who would refer to the good doctor, above, as "elderly." Not on your life. Any more than anyone would refer to the inimitable Mick Jagger, who is inching towards 80, as "elderly."
Jagger works out like a banshee for his shows, and dances, prances and hurls himself around for the equivalent of twelve miles every time he performs. To be able to do that, he keeps ADDING more to his workouts. There is no such thing as retirement. That is precisely why he can do what he does.
He's not "lucky." And no it's not "easy." It's immensely hard work.
You and I, at any age, as long as we are mobile, can reverse a great many physical ills if you change some of your habits. Eat better. Move more. Get up and out and get active. Your body will pay you back, as long as you take it slowly, have some patience, and give yourself time to get with the program. Even if you are wheelchair bound there are plenty of options.
Is this that year for you? The odds are most definitely in your favor if you make that choice.
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