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Exercising in your 50s

As we age we often eat worse, suffering deficiencies in vit D, protein & antioxidants. Together with a lack of physical activity we suffer from muscle atrophy (wastage). As George Bernard Shaw said, “Man does not cease to play because he grows old. Man grows old because he ceases to play”.

It has been proposed that interventions to preserve muscle mass should be initiated no later than the 50th decade. In short we need to get moving.

However, endurance exercise (running, swimming) do little to maintain strength and speed of muscle contraction (ref Klitgaard te at. 1990 who found that elderly men engaged in running and swimming had similar declines in muscle strength as their sedentary counterparts).

Curiously, the number of atheltes competing in endurance events over the age of 50yrs has dramatically increased in the last 20yrs. This is great news for our hearts, but for the rest of our body’s musculature, it’s time to start lifting weights! Fortunately, with the range of kettlebells, Russian clubs, dumbells, sandbags, ViPR and other equipment out there, it can be fun.

World weight lifting records declined by 30% in men & 50% in women between the ages of 30-60yrs. But it is still possible for an 80-yr male to clean and jerk 55kg. So although sarcopenia (reduction in muscle strength with age) is unavoidable, it is still possible for older athletes to compete and even better their younger, less fit competitors.

If you need help designing a fitness program for you or a friend, I can help either on Zoom or by giving you a program.


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