Sign up FAST! Login

Age Is (Mostly) Irrelevant When It Comes to Fitness

Stashed in: #health, Fitspo, Awesome, Walk Jog Run Sprint Bolt, Aging, Aging, Retirement

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

The news, it turns out, is good and bad. Good, because, yes, there are ways to fight the fade. Even if you can’t quite turn back the clock, you can actually slow it considerably and maintain a high level of performance deep into your sunset years. The bad news is that senescence—aging—remains, for now at least, inexorable, and effectively battling it requires diligence and work.

Friel lays out the science before launching into his trademark blueprint for sustaining, and even improving, high-end performance through your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. The main factors that conspire against you are declining aerobic capacity, more body fat, shrinking muscles, and decreased mobility—the four horsemen of the fitness apocalypse, deterioration that accelerates as you get older.

But back to the good stuff. Friel argues that the most potent forces that affect aging have to do with behavior and lifestyle. “There is reason to believe that the major contributor to the performance decline in athletes as they get older is nurture, with nature playing a smaller role,” he writes. “[A]s we age, exercise behavior (nurture) appears to play a significant role in how our given genetic biology (nature) plays out.”

Friel ballparks nurture’s percentage at 60 to 70 percent. Let’s pause to consider this. If you buy Friel’s assessment, and you probably should because few people have been more involved in the study and application of exercise physiology than he has, he’s telling you that as much as 70 percent of your athletic power after turning 50 remains under your control. Have you heard better news today?

This is actually really good news, overall.

I'd imagine lower impact (walking, swimming) is better than higher impact (jumping, running).

Resistance exercises like rowing, bands and weights are excellent for keeping bones strong.

That's good advice, Geege. How many times a week is reasonable? Two or three?

Ya know, as often as you can.  I keep some free weights by my telly, a Pilates ring at my desk, and some bands all over the house for when I don't make it to the gym.  :)

So your mantra is just to move your muscles as much as possible?


I'm 56 and keep looking for things to push harder. 

“Both training volume and intensity are important to the maintenance of fitness as we age,” writes Friel, “but intensity is more important.”

Intensity means get uncomfortable, crank your heart rate up, have sore muscles, feel awkward. 

There's some other side benefits around stress release, hormone balance, etc - that comes from doing the stuff that leaves you gasping. 

Getting (mentally) comfortable with the (physically) uncomfortable may well be the key to a long and healthy life :-)

Bill do you have a rule of thumb on how much to do intensity, vs how much volume?

my gym workouts are all intensity in some form after the warmup. 

Some days I want to go anaerobic and am tabataish, other times, it's much more about muscle work.

Biking is a volume option - but unfortunately, I'm not getting as much as I want these days.

You May Also Like: