When it comes to exercise and fitness, age does make a difference. There, I’ve said it, and now it is even in writing! For years, when it came to fitness, my mantra has been “age is just a number.” I have relentlessly directed absolutely everyone I’ve come across to keep moving just like they were 29! Why 29? Well, it was a good year for me, and for a long, long, time my youngest son believed I was 29. Finally, when he was four or five he realized that with each birthday I was a year older, so he started adding years—from 29! I am now, according to my son, 36. His nickname, by the way, is “sweet baby James.”

While I still choose to operate from this mindset, in recent years I conceded to the fact that age has had an effect on my body. However, as I have aged, staying fit has become an even higher priority for me. My biggest challenge is eliminating all excuses and making my own fitness a habit.

The Reality

According to the experts at Harvard University, the first signs of aging creep up on us in our thirties. Our maximum attainable heart rate begins to decline, and the heart’s peak capacity to pump blood decreases by 5 to 10 percent per decade. This results in a diminished aerobic capacity or greater fatigue and breathlessness than younger athletes. Our blood vessels begin to stiffen, causing our blood pressure to creep up. Our blood becomes thicker too and becomes harder to pump through the body causing the heart to work harder. Most of us gain weight at rate of three to four pounds per year. Because we are also losing muscle (at an eventual accumulative rate of 50 percent), our body fat increases, resulting in a combination of medical problems related to weakness and disability, and eventually illnesses like type 2 diabetes, chronic high blood pressure and more. We sleep less, our reflexes are slower, coordination suffers, and we start to forget “stuff.”

What You Can Do

Harvard Men’s Health Watch noted that while no one can stop the clock, everyone can slow its tick. While exercise is not the fountain of youth, it is a good, long drink of vitality.

In a study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, researchers found slow, steady endurance training in middle-aged men improved resting heart rates, blood pressures and the heart’s maximum pumping abilities back to their baseline level at age 20! Endurance training also protected the body’s metabolism from the effects of age through reduced body fat, decreased sensitivity to insulin and lower blood sugar levels. Exercise also boosted HDL and lowered LDL cholesterols. Secondarily, mood and sleep improved, countering anxiety and depression. Basically, the researchers found that using your body will help keep it young. There is a lot of new information surfacing recently noting the benefits of high intensity interval training as an alternative to endurance training for older adults.

Sticking to an exercise program isn’t easy. Even the most committed get derailed at times due to work, family, illness and general lack of motivation. When you’re a little bit older, there is another set of factors that come into play: We are sometimes intimidated by younger people who are more fit and exercise savvy. Our schedules are busier, making it difficult to find the time for regular exercise. Our physical limitations, which seem to be adding up, make us feel inferior—it seems like everyone else can do more than we can! We hate the way we look in those tight exercise clothes, and many of us feel we need to get in shape first before we can join a gym.

The good news is that with the right instructors, classes, environment, mindset and support these concerns are easy to overcome.

CoreCrossFit Caters to the Masters

At CoreCrossFit we have built a program specific for the 40-plus demographic. Our program includes resistance exercise to improve muscle mass; muscle flexibility training to improve blood flow, reduce injury and improve posture; joint mobility training to improve range of movement and decrease joint pain; core stabilization classes to help with balance, maintain solid, graceful movement and even reduce low-back pain. Regular aerobic exercise is incorporated through short, CrossFit-style and high intensity interval training workouts where movements are modified based on age, prior injury and individual level of fitness.

Even better, as a CoreCrossFit Masters athlete you get to enjoy these programs with a group of people that are a lot like you and they’ve made a commitment to make exercise a habit!Team WorkDSC_1586StaceyDSC_1580