Life is short. Life is long. Views on lifespan range and the perspective of health & fitness in the aging category can vary. A lot of age stereotypes exist in our world, particularly related to the older folks. People who are above 65 years old are often seen as decrepit, expiring and weak. A common thread that you see in the media is someone who moves slower, perhaps using a walker, is in poor health and likely needs assistance with everyday tasks. While this is something that is a reality for a lot of people in the United States, it doesn’t need to be.
Yes, there are neurological, cognitive, sensory-perceptual and personality changes as we age. According to CrossFit, “the degree to which these changes result in functional decline is more a result of lifestyle factors than age. It is most likely that the effects of aging are accelerated and amplified by poor lifestyle and/or inactivity.” In other words, if you don’t take care of your body, your body won’t take care of you! Also, I realize there are increased risks as you age for things like, sudden cardiac arrest, but generally speaking, the better you take care of yourself with age, the more likely you will extend and push functional decline with bodily changes.
So, does weightlifting affect your joints once you are above 50 years of age?
Yes! How? Well, that depends on your lifestyle, genetics and overall health. For the average 50 year old who regularly exercises, gets adequate sleep, and eats a balanced diet, the results can be profound. Healthy and fit master athletes (those that are over the age of 55) are sometimes considered to be the standard for healthy living. Research shows that those who continue to stay active throughout their life seem to be the exemplars of aging. 1. While there isn’t a lot of research on healthy, fit master athletes, you will find one study that indicates that strength and muscle mass do not decline with age but rather with inactivity. 2.
Thinking through what traditional aging looks like and comparing that to a more optimistic view can really change perspective. Do we know exercise is good for us? Yes! Then why stop when we suddenly hit an arbitrary age in our 50’s? Why not continue to take care of your body through all of its changes as you age? Wouldn’t you rather your children/grandkids have trouble keeping up with you than you with them? Once you can look past stereotypes and classic views on aging and see that there is a way to longevity, it can be life changing! It’s important to know this for the sake of your lifespan! Shift your mindset and change your life.
Written by: Liz Moran, Coach, JCFit