teaches a lesson
A few years ago, my dog and I were out for a walk to mail some letters. The postman’s truck was just ahead of us, and each time we’d almost reach him, the truck would pull away to its next stop. This went on for a few blocks until we finally caught up.
As the postman got out of the truck I noticed how elderly he appeared, white-haired and well passed the usual retirement age. I kidded him about our chasing down his truck. He remarked that both his knees had been surgically repaired. I told him he looked quite nimble getting in and out of the truck and walking up the driveways with the mail.
“I could retire anytime,” he said. “The only reason I still come to work is that if you don’t keep moving, it’s all over.” In those two short sentences, he had healthy aging figured out.
Walk, jog, bike or work in the garden — but keep moving. Do whatever holds your interest. Add some resistance exercise and stretching and you’ll stay as fit as possible for as long as possible.
A men’s magazine broke down by decades suggested exercise guidelines for people as they age. I forget the magazine’s name. It wasn’t one of the steroid-bodybuilding publications but a men’s magazine of reasonableness. My only quarrel with the article is that more emphasis might have been placed on the word “guidelines.”
Certainly, workouts must evolve and change from decade to decade, but rigid formats usually aren't the best way to do it. And the magazine had broken it down to exact exercises, sets, and reps to do in each decade, beginning in
your 20s, then your 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. (The 70s on up weren’t mentioned.)
As mechanical as their guidelines sounded (to me), I shouldn't be too critical, as long as the advice was not taken as absolute. Everyone’s abilities and needs may not follow the same trajectory while moving from one decade to the next. Other factors, too, such as injuries or illnesses, must be taken into account when adjusting programs.
In my own case, I saw little difference in what I could do in my 50s. Capacity changes in my 60s also were quite gradual. Still, looking back at my training records, I can see there was some loss in strength as well as a need for more recovery time after workouts. Turning 70, I began noticing a little steeper decline. The need for adjustments may come at different stages for each of us.
In my 80s, abbreviated workouts with resistance bands have become more sensible for
me. I gave up one-rep-maximum lifts with free weights years ago. Seniors sending their blood pressure through the roof with do-or-die efforts isn’t smart.
When the great bodybuilder Steve Reeves moved into his 60s and 70s, he still weight trained three days per week. But he cut back his sets from three or four to two, used lighter weights, and did 15 to 25 reps, depending on which body part he was working. He isn’t a bad model to follow.
So keep moving. That’s the key. Make use of intelligent guidelines like those at Senior Exercise Central. Then make adjustments according to your own needs.
For senior beginners, a good, solid place to start is right here.
Stay healthy. Stay Fit.
My Photographs: Subscribers ask when the newsletter photo at the top and my website pictures were taken. I’m 86 years old. The photos were taken when I was a mere 70. Though I remain active, I am no longer nearly as muscular as I was 16 years ago. —LF
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The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.
I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.
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