New research reveals that six in ten Americans are vowing to get fit this year. Sadly, most of them won’t succeed for the usual litany of reasons — not having enough time, too much work to do, and a lack of energy.
One other common excuse caught my eye, though. Out of 2000 Americans surveyed, 23% said they felt too old to work out. The more shocking part of that misguided notion is the age at which they thought qualified as “too old”:
Are you kidding me?
As someone a decade older than that who has pretty much transformed my fitness in the last year, that’s news to me. Of course it’s not true, but the fact that people feel that way is alarming.
Plenty of “old” people are kicking ass
First of all, almost a third of all triathlon participants in the United States are between the ages of 40 and 49, according to USA Triathlon. Last I checked, doing a triathlon is a bit tougher than hitting the StairMaster a few times a week.
Secondly, the concept of “old” keeps getting pushed back later and later, and it’s nowhere near 41. Plus, the older you get, the farther ahead you’ll personally push the marker — mainly because you don’t feel old from a psychological standpoint.
In other words, “old” is subjective.
So why would some people feel physically old in their 40s? In a dose of sweet irony that any Gen Xer can appreciate, it’s not that you’re too old to work out; it’s because you’re not working out.
Fight the weakness
As we move through life, we lose muscle and gain fat unless we’re actively doing something about it. Add in poor nutrition and a desk job, and your lower back may indeed make you feel old in your 40s.
Worse, you’ll be on the path to a miserable level of weakness as you continue to age. Muscle loss can speed up appreciably after the age of 50.
The basic prescription is to move more — not just to help you lose weight, but to make you feel younger. The thing that will truly make a revolutionary difference in your life, however, is strength training.
I’m not talking about lifting for looks (although you will absolutely look better as your muscles tone). I’m talking about how you feel when your core muscles strengthen. In my recent experience, it’s like becoming a different person.
Your lower back will feel much better, your posture will improve, and your stride will reflect the opposite of old. Make it a habit if you want a shot at actually getting old, because people 65 and older who strength train twice a week have a 46% lower mortality rate.
And then, if you’re so inclined, you can start training for that triathlon. At 41, 51, 61 … or whenever you get bored with owning Millennials at CrossFit.