Still skiing and Mt. Bike riding at 77

by Chris Harnish
(Marin County, California)

I built my body doing Tree Surgery in my summers from college and didn't need to do much to maintain it, other than my active physical life style until I was about 40.

I was a runner for years. Loved it and generally ran 25 to 40 miles per week until my mid 50s when I started feeling some developing issues in my right knee. I thought that I could keep running for another 5 years or so, but then I'd have such knee issues that I wouldn't be able to ski any more. I quit running, which I loved, and took up Mountain Biking to get my aerobic exercise.

In looking back, that was such a wise decision. I'm still skiing and Mt. Biking at 77.

I had been a deep tissue masseur or "bodyworker" working on serious athletes and people with injuries and my years of experience of bodywork inform my workouts. I had learned that strengthening a muscle shortens it, so immediately after doing an exercise to strengthen a muscle, I generally stretch it.

My goals for my physical training are simple: to maintain my ability to carry out the activities of daily living to the end. It is to maintain my ability to ski, to do all of the movements required to garden, maintain my house and take care of myself.

When I go to the gym it is MY time! I turn my iPhone to Do Not Disturb. It is time for me to do the maintenance that my body asks for and requires.

I do a number of BOSU exercises because balance is one of the casualties of getting older and when you lose your balance accidents and injuries happen that could end my ability to take care of myself. My favorite BOSU exercise is to put on some good dance music and take a 7.5 lb. weight in each hand and with the BOSU either soft side up and soft side down, I dance. This is exactly the same muscles that are needed for skiing and with 7.5 lb. weights is terrific arm and shoulder development exercise.

I use a 65 or 75 cm. exercise ball to do crunches, face up, on each side and face down. What I add to these exercises is important; As I'm doing the crunches I do them at every angle I can think of in an attempt to maintain the activities of daily living, where I want my body to have strength at all angles. For face up crunches I do a few face up and then turned to the right I do a few, to the left I do a few. When doing them on my side, I do some facing ahead, then do some still on my side but facing up and some facing down. This keeps all of obliques strong, and hopefully will help my body maintain strength from any angle that I need it.

For my weight training, I use the Strong/Slow technique, which means one set of 10 where each contraction takes 8 to 10 seconds and each eccentric contraction also takes 8 to 10 seconds. This makes for a long set, but it works all of the muscle fibers and builds endurance into the muscle, which I feel when skiing.

I generally go to the gym 2, sometimes 3 times a week and Mountain Bike most weekends, a 10 mile round trip up the mountain and back that takes about an hour and a half. During one hard part of the uphill my heart rate gets up to 163 or so, which I can't maintain for very long. For most of the uphill my HR is 135 to 140.

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Apr 01, 2017
Feeling some aging milestones
by: Chris Harnish

How very interesting to be the witness to this body senescing.

I'll be 78 in a month. For years have been observing this body lose strength and endurance gradually. As mentioned in my main posting, I do my best to slow down these losses and maintain my strength, flexibility and endurance, but inexorably it happens. This week there were a couple of milestones.

On our weekly mountain bike ride of about 10 miles, half of it up a steady incline, which at one point gets steeper for about 10 yards. For the past year or two, it's been all I could do to peddle up that 10 yards and my heart rate gets up to about 165 bpm. Sometimes it feels like just too much and I walk it. At first, I walked that 10 yards about 1 in 10 times, then 1 in 5 and for the past few weeks, I've walked it each time. Last week I noted that I probably will not peddle this 10 yards again!

What an interesting milestone.

The second noticeable milestone came during weight lifting at the gym. It has started to feel as though some of the weights that I've been lifting for years are now just too much and I've backed of by 5 lbs. on several weights for the first time.

The trick for me is to exercise to maintain my health and fitness; not to abuse my body.

In the excellent book, "Younger Next Year" the authors encourage us to do a very strong workout, but when is it too strong for my body now??

Nov 23, 2016
by: Anonymous

Good to hear from other septuagenarians doing smart things with their health. Your story is motivating and so of definite value to the rest of us. Although I have my own fairly well-rounded and rigorous exercise routine at 75, I sometimes tend to slip almost entirely into mental workout side (math) to a point where it becomes obsessive at the expense of the physical. So an excellent story like yours now and then is great fuel for me. And once I get out of the mental chair and into the physical activities, it's all good again. Lot of truth to the thought that exercise is medicine.


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