Aging and Fitness: Finding Balance
By Don Otis –
Life is full of surprises; unknown twists and turns that affect our health, our finances, jobs, and even our relationships. The one certainly is that getting older levels the playing field of life. Whether you are 35 and pine for the days when you could run like the wind, or 70 and wish you could climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing, age makes a difference in our abilities and performance.
In past columns I have stressed key points of fitness such as consistency and intensity. Our tendency is to start and stop diets and fitness routines. We have talked about the importance of finding a physical activity you enjoy and making it a regular part of your week. In other words, making an appointment with yourself and sticking to it.
There are so many studies and statistics and so much marketing that it’s easy to get caught up in all the confusion about what to eat or not to eat. I am not a nutritionist, and I am the first to admit it. Still, most of us know what’s good for us or not-so-good. I believe the Bible teaches us the importance of moderation and balance in all areas of life. As I have aged, I notice my muscles don’t recover as quickly. After a hard workout, my quadriceps can be sore for a couple days. That never happened in my 20s, 30s or even my 40s. Now, however, it is part of what I have come to expect so I take protein shortly after most workouts to help muscle recovery.
If you are active, you have noticed some other issues—shrinking muscles and lack of elasticity. In other words, stretching becomes vital you age. And for those who have back problems, learning to lift properly (use your legs, not your lower back), can make a difference. For lower back strain, focus on building your core—the part of your body that gets the least amount of attention. By building your abdominal (stomach) muscles, you give support for the upper body which often overcompensates when put under a physical workload.
It comes as no surprise that as we age our metabolism changes too; it decreases. We burn fewer calories in simple everyday chores. In a country where almost 70 percent of men are overweight or obese, igniting your “engine” (metabolism) through activity is not just a good idea; it will determine your longevity. And our children are no better off. For children who are obese at age 20 (defined as 30 pounds or more above normal weight), their lifespan is cut by an average of 13 years.
As Christians we know that this world is not our home. Except for Enoch and Elijah, I know of no one who has cheated death. The time we spend on this sphere is short and making the most of the equipment God has given us is an act of stewardship. Accept that your body is always changing and make it part of your life to accept what you can’t change but to make the most of what God has given you.