Fitness After 40 and Beyond
For 15 years this furry girl was my running companion and pace-setter for our daily dose of exercise and fresh air. Matched like horse and rider, our tempos synchronised and she instinctively knew how to cut the corners for efficiency, when it was time to kick up the speed and would even check for traffic before crossing roads. What a gal! She seemed to thrive on the heart-pumping speed and endorphin boost of our runs together, just like humans do.
But as dogs do, she also loved getting out for slower neighbourhood walks. She was my running companion, but the roles switched for those walks. That was her time to get caught up with the neighbourhood news, snuffle and sniff everything and visit friends through fence holes.
As Olive got older and slower, she didn’t seem bothered to miss out on our runs. If there was a ball to chase, she’d have enough energy to retrieve a few tosses, before flopping onto the grass with a big smile of satisfaction. It seemed that she knew how to save her energy for what mattered most. In her old age, she no longer needed those long runs and was happy to keep fit enough to chase a ball a few times.
It turns out this dog knew about the science of exercise.
How we humans exercise after age 40 and beyond makes a big difference in how our bodies age, chronologically. In order to keep our favourite activities satisfying, we need to take stock of the fullness and quality of our movement and balance activity with rest and stillness. The three main pillars of fitness - cardio conditioning, strength and power training and mobility training - are often looked at individually instead of a package. If we’ve trained our bodies more heavily in one area and neglected the others, imbalances and pain will inevitably arise. What worked for us before, may either not be as satisfying or no longer provide the desired results.
Along with the metabolic and biological changes that begin at this age, so can our approach to staying fit. The goals for fitness don’t need to be faster, stronger and bigger–and longer workouts. How about shorter workouts with mobility training to improve agility and balance, strength training to build bone density and maintain muscle mass and cardio to boost mood and energy levels?
Science tells us that brief and carefully-curated mixes of these three offer the desired results. Together, they harmonise the benefits of movement, allowing more satisfaction in our daily activities. And for optimal longevity, they are balanced with rest days to recoup.
Changing how we work out will change how we move, feel and ultimately how we live.
For a number of years, Olive hasn’t been with family, but I still reminisce on our snail-paced walks and everyday I go out for ‘dog walks’ for the same reasons as in the past; they allow me to slow down, enjoy the moment and let my thoughts settle.
How did I come up with the idea of this blog?
A dog walk of course:)
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”