I’ve recently finished reading tennis great Jim Connor’s book and have moved on to Andre Agassi’s autobiography. I’m always interested in learning about how others have achieved greatness in sports and what it took to get there. But one common theme in both books is both gentlemen by their mid thirties were broken and suffering with injuries and chronic pain. Let’s be fair – their bodies were their business so to speak and they both worked out at an extreme level for many years. It’s not uncommon to see retired professional athletes need surgeries or have chronic issues. This is not a tennis specific situation. If I had the chance to compete in the Olympics but knew it might shorten my athletic career – I’m not so sure I wouldn’t pick the Olympics!
This got me to thinking about myself and my clients, though. How can we workout for life? How can we continue to exercise, maintain bone density, build or maintain muscle, maintain our weights and work our hearts for years to come? The answer is simple. As we age we need to find ways to work out that are kinder to our bodies and have less potential for injuries.
It’s no secret I love to run. I’ve been doing it most of my life. But I have realized I am a better runner these days when I take a day off between runs. I have also realized I don’t need to run as far to get the enjoyment out of it and desired results. In my twenties I could run every day or 6 days a week and I thought rest days were for the weak. My recovery time was quicker. Now I focus on quality over quantity of runs/miles. By no means do I think I’m old – I haven’t even lived half my life yet! I want a body that will continue to work with me as I age. Beating my body up now will only lead to issues later in life. I want to be an active senior when I get there many years from now!
There is a reason you don’t see 80 year-olds in boot camp! That kind of impact is just not wise for someone that may not have the balance or quick response of a younger generation. One of the things I love about Pilates is it is great at any age. Yes – you do see 80 year-olds using the reformer! Pilates is an effective way to tone, gain muscle, improve or maintain bone density, work the heart and maintain or lower body weight. Without the impact of running, bootcamp or other activities – Pilates is not harmful to joints. Pilates is wonderful for those with arthritis, knee issues, shoulder issues and so on.
When we get those nagging injuries and we ignore them or try to push through – we are setting ourselves up for future issues. Letting our bodies heal/recover or finding an exercise that doesn’t cause problems will extend our working out/active years.
When I think about my future workouts – I hope that if I am smart and realistic and I can continue to run for many years. I also know that without a doubt Pilates will be there for me. I may need to modify a few things and that is just fine. My 90 year old aunt was doing Pilates moves last time I visited her (she didn’t realize that’s what it was – but I did!) – she’s my inspiration to keep going and keep healthy.
With a smart approach now – you can workout for life!