Thursday 15 February 2024

It ain't easy


fitness it ain't easy

As we get older keeping fit gets harder. I think it's tougher than getting fit in the first place.

When you start to exercise you have a great goal; improve from where you are. And you're younger.

There are many reasons for becoming less fit.

It's a natural process.

Muscle loss and changes:

  • Sarcopenia: This refers to the age-related decrease in muscle mass and strength. It starts around 30 and accelerates after 50, mainly due to a decline in protein synthesis and hormonal changes like reduced testosterone and growth hormone.
  • Fiber type shift: Older adults lose more fast-twitch muscle fibers, responsible for power and speed, than slow-twitch fibers used for endurance. This contributes to decreased strength and performance in activities like sprinting and jumping.

Physiological changes:

  • Metabolic shift: With age, our bodies become less efficient at using energy and tend to store more fat, leading to weight gain and reduced fitness levels.
  • Cardiovascular changes: The heart becomes less efficient at pumping blood, and arteries lose elasticity, affecting oxygen delivery to muscles and reducing exercise capacity.
  • Joint stiffness and pain: Arthritis and other joint issues can limit mobility and make physical activity uncomfortable, leading to reduced participation.

Lifestyle factors:

  • Decreased physical activity: As we age, we tend to become less active due to various reasons like changing priorities, health issues, or limitations. This inactivity further accelerates muscle loss and fitness decline.
  • Poor diet: A diet lacking in protein, essential nutrients, and antioxidants can hinder muscle repair and recovery, contributing to weakness and fatigue.
I took part in a study a few years ago. Link. It was to investigate how muscles change and the affect of exercise on the speed of decline.
Now that I am fairly fit for my age motivation plays a big part in maintaining it. At the back of my mind is the fear of undoing what has taken many years to accomplish. 

I also have to enjoy being active.
I have the balance right at the moment.

Boredom is the reason I have started a new regime. The bad weather meant that I was spending more time on the trainer in the garage. I used to ride for an hour, now twenty minutes is as much as I can bear. Running gave me a goal: to complete a marathon before I'm sixty. I'll be 58 this year so I have some time, a half marathon in May will be the first big test. I now ride before work and run after it. At first I felt very stiff as I pounded the pavement. Whilst I don't yet feel 100% comfortable it is getting better. 
Running was my chosen sport at school, but that was primarily because I wasn't good at football, cricket etc. Cross country was the best; I ran out of the school grounds, then walked chatting with mates. Remembering to sprint a bit near the end to ensure we were out of breath at the finish.

I have a daily routine, but it would be very easy to start skipping parts of it. Gradually I'd fill my days with other activities, or worse just sit and do nothing. This is when having others involved makes a huge difference. I have always had Matt to meet at various locations on the weekend. I know neither of us would have cycled regularly without the camaraderie this brought. But, as it did for so many people, covid changed that. For months we rode alone. When we were allowed to mix and stop at cafes etc we had altered our tradition. I had joined a cycling club. Here's a link to why I joined Oxted Cycling Club. Saturdays are for club rides, and Sundays are for chats with Matt at Sheree's cafe in Tatsfield.

So how do I keep motivated to run? Apart from the fact it means I'm out of the garage I now have a goal. And a running buddy. My local bike shop owner runs a few days a week. On a Wednesday he starts from the workshop. He is quicker than me so the rest of the week is training to improve my speed. Also a mate signed up to a half marathon, noticed I had started running and mentioned it to me. So I signed up to do it.

Hopefully this will mean I stay fit and active for many years. 
Please keep checking my blogs for the adventures good health allows.

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