I hope it has been in all the newspapers and TV news shows. I hope you saw it on Oprah and heard it on the radio. There is enough bad news in the typical newscast to depress a dozen optimistic souls. Just listen to the news to bring your energy down. It is a sad, frightening, depressing world out there if you trust the news media. And it seems to be getting worse again.
But, have you heard? The latest research on aging strongly suggests we can be far more fit than we ever thought possible, and this is due to the adaptability of our bodies. It is not too late even for those who could have, or should have started sooner.
It seems that most of the previous studies regarding fitness and aging, have been done on the unfit. That is, they studied sedentary individuals who were not exercising and were in the study in large measure because they were not fit. They forgot to include fit individuals in the senior category.
We have gotten many of our notions about what is possible in senior fitness from seniors who were not fit or from the average senior.
A study of the average senior says little to nothing about those who are exceptional, that is, those who have succeeded in creating a fit life style.
We can learn more from those who are successful, especially if we wish to be one of them.
Now that they are beginning to study fit seniors, what is possible for all of us appears much more exciting.
No one suggests that aging has no impact. But it is far less than previously thought.
And for those who begin or increase or refine their fitness program in later years, they can be more fit than they ever were.
That includes looking good, feeling good, and having increased energy, and a positive balance of body chemicals.
Researchers say, it's due to how adaptable the human body is, "that people can start serious training at an older age and become highly competitive." Also, according to their their findings, some physiological factors needed for good performance are not much affected by age.
"You should be able to maintain your muscles as you age, including the muscle enzymes needed for good athletic performance."
You have to know how to train, but that is true at any age for any endeavor.
"Older athletes still can have spectacular performances", Dr. Tanaka, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas, notes.
For example, the world best marathon time for men 70 or older (2:54:05) was set by a 74-year-old. That time is more than four minutes faster than the winning marathon time at the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896.
That may not be as fast as a younger runner can achieve, but it is an impressive achievement.
Perhaps now would be a good time to decide what it is we wish to achieve. Perhaps being fit, looking great, feeling great, is more important as we age than setting records.
In many sports achievement is measured according various categories, e.g. age, sex, weight.
For example in boxing, judo or karate, competition is by weight.
There are numerous sports with age categories, e.g. tennis.
There are other sports where athletes over a certain age no longer play professionally as football or basketball.
So one consideration is competition.
Another consideration is looking great, feeling great, being healthy and fit.
We feel proud of our achievements because we know it was a challenge we took on successfully. We do not expect the impossible. We celebrate our victories.
There are several areas of physical expertise which do not have these categories. Aikido is an example. Practitioners are noted as excelling even more as they age.
If we wish to set records, we can research such areas of expertise and choose one that is not limited by age.
Peter Woronoff is a psychotherapist, martial artist, and fitness enthusiast. Claim your Free audio: Take the Struggle Out of Getting Fit
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