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The problems with aging

From a fitness perspective there are three problems associated with aging. The first problem is that as we age we begin to lose lean muscle mass, a condition called Sarcopenia. After the age of forty the average person can lose between a third and a quarter-of-a-pound of lean body tissue per year, and gain that weight back in fat. Worse news yet: unless that condition is dealt with that rate increases with each decade.

The second problem associated with aging is the accumulation of injuries and trauma to the body over time, especially those that affect quality of life.

The third problem associated with aging is a loss of complexity in movement.

One day you’re going to find yourself in your forties or fifties and realize that your movement palette has severely shrunk. That without meaning to, those activities you enjoyed as a kid – riding your bike, climbing trees, going swimming, rolling and tumbling like monkeys in the grass, sprinting and wrestling with friends – were all pushed to the wayside due to societal pressures and the lure of organized athletics.

Now the only things you are doing, outside of your job and household chores, is going to the gym and using the treadmill and maybe lifting weights a little, but only the “safer” machines. After all, you don’t want to get hurt. It won’t be long until you find yourself in your twilight years, and all you will be doing is sitting in a chair, or lying down. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you go for the occasional walk, but nothing too strenuous or too far.

Luckily all of these conditions have a counter agent.

Want to keep most of your lean muscle tissue? Eat a healthy diet and do some sort of resistance exercise. Lift weights or do body weight exercises – your body can’t tell the difference where the resistance is coming from.

For accumulated trauma or injury compensation (post rehab), yoga is probably the best tool to put in your toolbox.

As for complexity in movement, yoga once again is an excellent choice to sophisticate your palette. As are other systems such as Body-Flow , modern dance and martial arts like Capoeira, Aikido and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

It matters less what protocol you choose, than the fact that you practice them diligently. There are many paths up the mountain of health, wellness and fitness. All you have to do is chose the one that’s right for you.


  • Felipe E. 5 years ago

    nice and concise, and now that I'm 50, I'm finding it all true. The exercises and conditioning you recommend are effective, especially the Yoga for trauma.

    But 70 year-olds are from a different generation and in my experience are not interested in this kind of conditioning (martial arts, yoga, weights) -so what is best for them?

  • Chuck Kechter 5 years ago

    Felipe: Interest and ability are different things. Unless there is some medical reason inhibiting a person, there isn't any to keep them from resistance training (and there are many benefits to it). And there are many styles of yoga, some more vigorous than others... But if they aren't interested in those things, there are always things like Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Swimming, Body-weight exercise, etc.

    Hopefully this helped! Thanks!