Good Masters Advice
As our bodies change and age, our exercise outlook must change too.
Jessica Seaton, D.C., an orthopedic chiropractor and chair of the United
States Masters Swimming (USMS) sports medicine committee, suggests that
athletes hone their workouts for what they can do now -- not what they
"Athletes show certain patterns as they age," Seaton said. "In their
early 20s, athletes can train irregularly, train hard, injure themselves
and bounce back pretty quickly. By their late 30s, irregular training,
training too hard or training too little make a bigger difference than it
did 10 years earlier. By the time athletes reach 40, they're not spring
"Irregular training has more dire consequences, often leading more
quickly to injury, and often of a more serious nature. As the years go
on, all of this gets more pronounced."
There is one caveat, Seaton said: We are each on our own physiological
schedule. Everyone ages on slightly different schedules.
Factors that affect the speed of aging include genetics, quantity and
quality of exercise, nutrition, illness, habits such as drinking alcohol
or smoking cigarettes, outlook and attitude, and stress.
Each person also has a unique genetic make-up, with biochemical and
physiological individuality. Different optimal workouts suit different
times of life.
Here are three smart ways to avoid this breakdown:
* Give your body time to heal. As we age, our basal metabolic rate --
the rate of metabolism when the body is at rest -- slows down. This same
slowing of the basal metabolic rate affects tissue healing. Training is a
process of overusing a tissue (muscle), causing it to break down, and
then a rebuilding of the muscle as a reaction. As we get older, this
process is slower.
* Learn to listen to your own body. If you feel worn out or tired, your
body is telling you to take it easy. If you are under stress, your body's
ability to repair itself may be impaired. Training hard during such times
does not make sense and may very well lead to injury.
* Stagger your workouts, cross-train, and do something different once in
a while during a regular activity. Maybe it's some quick intervals during
your runs or a shift to kicking for a couple of swim workouts. Your body
-- and mind -- will appreciate it.
"If you train hard every day of the week, or several days in a row,
you're really not giving your body time to rebuild," Seaton said. "The
result is that you simply end up being broken down."
PVTC Membership Secretary