If you’ve been physically active, this is for you. While getting older comes with a few kinks of basic wear and tear, there are loads of ways to stay in shape and avoid injury. Yes, we all know that one person who seems to have stopped the clock on their appearance, but look closer. It doesn’t just come down to genetics – there’s usually consistent effort work that goes into it too.

Ageing Process

  1. Muscles and Joints – Bone density reduces with the gradual loss of calcium and other minerals. The femur (longest bone in the body found in the leg) and other long bones become brittle and more prone to injury. The space between vertebrae (bones of the spine) reduces as the gel-like cushion between the intermediate disks become thinner. Fluid in the joints may decrease, and the cartilage may begin to rub together and erode, making joints stiffer and less flexible.
  2. Cardiorespiratory Fitness – Besides the known fact that cholesterol lines the inner walls of our arteries, ageing brings changes in the mechanical and structural properties of the vascular wall. The loss of arterial elasticity and reduced arterial compliance and heart muscle mass loss is inevitable. However, regular exercise such as aerobics can reverse cardio degeneration. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercise three to five times per week for 20–60 minutes per session, at an intensity that maintains the heart rate between 65-90 percent of the maximum heart rate.
  3. Eat Right For Your Age – Research suggests that older athletes have no drastic changes to make to athletic nutrition plans. Their biggest nutrition worry should be to have a routine intake of quality calories from nutrient-dense, health protective foods that are not only an investment in top performance but also enhance recovery post-injury and reduce the risk of diseases that are common with ageing.
  4. Vitamin C for collagen formation.
  5. Omega-3 oils for anti-inflammatory effects.
  6. Sulphur in amino acids helps metabolise omega-3 fatty acids, forms proteins in hair and initiates the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that reduces ageing pigments. It is also good for joint cartilage health.
  7. Bioflavonoids for anti-inflammatory effects and improved local circulation.
  8. Antioxidants (selenium and vitamin E) for protection against the damaging free radicals that proliferate in the body with age.

Training Tips

  1. Warm-up well – Older athletes should extend the warm up period to include a slow, gradual increase in intensity and increase blood flow to big leg muscles to aid in a smooth workout.
  2. Stretch ‘em – Stretching has its benefits at every age because it offsets the loss of flexibility. Identify your short and tight muscles and dedicate more time to lengthen them.
  3. Strength training – Strength training is a corrective action to sarcopenia, loss of skeletal muscle mass in older athletes. The older you get the more important strength training becomes.
  4. Try weights to maintain fast-twitch muscle fibres known for providing instant power.
  5. Plyometric exercises improve mobility and balance.

Facts and Figures

  1. The ageing process leads to distinct muscle mass and loss of strength, which declines at approximately 16% for those younger than 40 years old, and up to 41% in those older than 40.
  2. After 50, there is more than a 15% loss in strength per decade.
  3. Between 2015 and 2030, the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56 per cent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion, and by 2050, the global population of older persons is projected to more than double its size in 2015, reaching nearly 2.1 billion.
Scott Westcott, 41, Marathon Runner
Scott Westcott, 41, Marathon Runner
Oksana Chusovitina 41, Gymnast
Oksana Chusovitina 41, Gymnast
Kristin Armstrong, 43, Cyclist