Being an athlete is an excellent way to live a long, healthy life, but it requires some adjustments as you grow older. If you continue working out at 40 like you did at 25, you are risking serious injury. At this point in your life, you probably have a busy career, a couple of kids, and a never-ending list of housework. The last thing you need is an injury.
Studies have shown how the body changes with age: muscle mass breaks down, metabolism slows, and flexibility decreases. To counter the effects of aging and maintain your fitness and activity level, you will need to listen to your body’s cues. With increasing age comes increasing wisdom about what your body needs. You should know how far you can push yourself, and when to take a break.
If you are approaching middle age, you might adopt a training strategy to balance high intensity workouts with lower intensity exercises. Some experts recommend doing one or two weeks of intense training followed by one week of recovery workouts. Within each week of training, include a mix of exercises to build your endurance and flexibility as well as strength.
Strength training is important for aging bodies because muscle mass fades quickly. Strong muscles are needed to protect your joints from injury. A licensed physical therapist or certified athletic trainer can work with you to develop a personal training strategy that will keep you in the game.
Nutrition is vital for athletes who want to feel 10 years younger. Adequate hydration helps your body refuel and function optimally. Taking antioxidants like vitamin C and E can also aid in recovery after a workout and even reduce muscle soreness.
Speaking of recovery, the quality of your workout is only as good as the quality of your sleep. Experts suggest working out early in the morning. Most of us are too tired to give 100% in the gym after a long day at work, and working out too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep. If you enjoy working out at night as a form of relaxation, try doing some low impact exercises or restorative yoga stretches to wind down.
Meli Orthopedic Centers of Excellence can help you optimize your athletic performance at any age. Dr. John Benevento is a physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist. He conducts sports-specific evaluations, designs strength training programs, and provides guidance regarding nutrition and injury prevention. John has treated athletes who play in the NFL, NBA, MMA, MLB, and PGA.