Can you get fitter as you get older?
I’m 71 now (April 2019) and there’s lots of things I can do now that I couldn’t do as a child or even as a young adult. For example,
- I can touch my toes.
- I can stand on one leg for quite a while.
- I can run for 20 minutes without getting puffed out.
These are things I couldn’t do when I was small. I was a child who thought and read, not a child who ran.
Enjoying weight lifting
In my sixties I started going to the gym. I started to enjoy lifting weights and getting strong. As part of that I can now touch my toes and stand on one leg. As a child I was often frightened of slipping or falling on uneven surfaces. Now I’m usually not. What’s changed? Again it’s that gym, getting stronger legs and a stronger core.
So if you’re in your fifties or even your sixties, or even like me in your 70’s, don’t believe it’s all downhill. Don’t believe that your physical health has to deteriorate. You could be like me and get fitter and stronger and more resilient.
It’s not luck or good genes that have given me this improvement. It’s going to the gym, working out hard and eating the right food. The benefits of that are huge. When I look around at other people my age, I am sad that so many of them are missing that chance to be strong and well.
Enjoying the gym
Lots of people tell me the gym “doesn’t work” or “it’s boring”, but when I quiz them more about what they actually did in the gym it soon becomes clear why that was their experience.
You won’t get fit by just going to the gym. You need to work out and work out hard. By that I don’t mean work out as hard as anyone else, just work out hard for you. When you first go to the gym and look at those machines and racks of weights, it’s right to be nervous. It’s right to start slowly so you don’t injure yourself.
But after a few weeks you should get breathless and hot; you should feel tired afterwards; you should feel a sense of achievement and feel your body getting stronger. This only happens if you gradually push yourself more, challenge yourself to lift a heavier weight, do more repetitions with the same weight or try a more difficult exercise. (Don’t do all three at once!) When you do this, the gym does work and the gym gets exciting not boring.