Here are some Training Tips for Older Athletes
The following training methods have been suggested for all athletes to improve performance, but seem particularly helpful for slowing the age-related decline in athletic speed:
- Hill Running or Interval Training can condtion both the aerobic and the anaerobic system which lead to dramatic fitness improvements.
- Weight training can maintain muscle tone, strength and maintain fast twitch muscle fibers.
- Plyometric exercises increase power and strength
- Creatine supplementation may be helpful for improving performance during repetitive high power output exercise sessions.
The common fitness declines that occur with aging include changes in body composition with increased body fat and decreased muscle mass, lose of height (sometimes due to osteoporosis), diminished cardiorespiratory capacity and muscle atrophy. Despite these losses there are examples of extraordinary physical feats of older athletes.
Older athletes are often able to compete in endurance exercise because they often have higher proportions of slow twitch fibers.
Additionally, it's estimated the much of the physical declines associated with aging aren't inevitable but is due to a detraining or deconditioning effect that comes from a decrease in exercise levels, frequency or intensity. Research has found that seniors make quick improvements when they start exercise.
Nutrition for the Older Athlete
Proper nutrition in older athletes may also protect the joints from age-related degeneration. Aging causes the joints to become less flexible and lose a range of motion. These limitations can compromise physical abilities. The following nutrients are of particular importance for older athletes:
- Vitamin C for collagen formation
- Omega-3 oils (from nuts, seeds, oily fish and wheat germ) for anti-inflammatory effects.
- Sulphur-containing amino acids (from some vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and dairy products) for joint cartilage health.
- Bioflavinoids (from all fruit and vegetables, and buckwheat) for anti-inflammatory effects and improved local circulation.
- Antioxidants (selenium and vitamin E) for protection against the damaging free radicals that proliferate in the body with age.
- Some supplements may also be helpful, but check with your doctor before trying any.
Aging results in decreases in muscle power faster the decreases in endurance in both men and women. While endurance performance in men peaks in the 20s and declines by about 4 percent by age 55, in women endurance often peaks in the 30s. In both men and women strength and power show a much faster and earlier decline.
Memory, Age and Fitness
There is growing evidence that suggests that seniors who exercise not only reduce the physical declines of age, but also protect their brains (particularly memory) from age-related decline. Physical fitness is linked with a reduced rate of memory decline in middle age.
It's Never Too Late to Start Exercising
There is growing evidence that that many of the physical and mental declines common with aging can be reduced with appropriate fitness and nutrition programs and it's not too late to start improving fitness, no matter what your age.