I once heard an interview with actor George Clooney, where he talked about his workout routine: “I exercise so that I can do everything I want to do,” he said.
Always faithful, but never a fan of daily exercise, it was a lightbulb moment for me.
I think most of us assume that as we get older, we will get slower. But Joe Friel, a 70-year-old decorated triathlete, coach and author, disputes this idea in his book, “Fast After 50.” Drawing on the latest research on aging and sports performance, Friel shows how endurance athletes – and the rest of us – can stay strong and healthy well past age 50.
Decreasing anabolic (tissue-building) hormone production as we age seems to be the main culprit in declining fitness levels. (These are the hormones that affect recovery and healing.) The best way to maintain these hormones, as well as health and performance as we age is high-intensity interval training, strength training, adequate protein in our diets and lots of sleep, according to Friel.
Typically, as we age, our metabolism slows, and fitness-wise, we tend to adopt a training pattern of long, slow distances. Conversely, Mr. Friel says, we need to push ourselves, starting high-intensity intervals very slowly (only one or two the first session and building from there), throughout our workouts. He says that older adults are perfectly capable of pursuing high-intensity workouts well into later life. “To be fast, one needs to train fast,” Mr. Friel says.
High-intensity interval training (often referred to as HIIT), is a training technique in which brief, high-intensity bursts are interspersed with active, slower “rest” periods. If you’re walking at your normal workout pace on the treadmill, you might walk at a 2% incline for 30-seconds every 2 minutes, or increase your speed and run for 30-seconds every 2 minutes. The other 1½ minutes would still be active, but you would slow your speed somewhat for “rest.” On a bike or elliptical, you might increase the resistance and push yourself to go as fast as you can for the short bursts. HIIT keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. For more information on HITT, click here.
Year-round strength training two to three times a week is also essential, as is adequate sleep. Reducing sleep to fit more activities into our lives actually diminishes athletic performance and may even shorten life-expectancy.
Sigh…I’ve always worked out, but I’ll admit to letting myself slack off on intensity in the past few years. I’m going to have to change that. When my nest was full, it was easy to make excuses, but if you’re like me, the empty nest took away many of the excuses I used in my earlier years. Those sweet little excuses moved right out of the house.
The free high-intensity interval training workouts at FitnessBlender.com have helped me a lot. Bob and I do them together twice a week. (If you can recruit your husband or a good friend on your fitness journey, it will make a difference.) To read more about our experience with Fitness Blender workouts, click here.
So, I’m with George Clooney. (Um, I mean, not literally WITH George Clooney…) 🙂 There’s still a lot I want to do! What about you? How do you stay fit and fast? I’d love to hear about your workout regimen, so leave me a comment and give me your thoughts!
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