Aging is inevitable. When faced with an inevitability, stop fretting and concentrate on the evitable and movable.
As we age we have choices to make. Some wiser than others, some made by others for you. The personal decisions will affect how well we survive our environment, our consumption and perhaps even by what is influenced by our epigenetics [i] — where your grandparents may well have made decisions that affect you right now and over which you have no control.
How might this affect our health and fitness? Whoa! Too many variables for us to deal with here, but it is probably fair to say that whatever level we achieve costs a lot. An immense personal investment in time, effort and money. We must make the best choices we can. That said, concentrate on the achievables and manipulate them to our best advantage.
Survival will include failures as we learn and test. How do we guys feel when we fail, break down? Failing is a bad word nowadays, reviled by many in the health & fitness industries as weakness and devoid of positivity. How often do we hear that phrase ‘pain is just weakness leaving the body’?
Do you really believe that? Think about it for a moment, even as a metaphor. Is pain a physiological substance like sweat? Personally, I don’t believe so. In some ways, pain falls into the same category as breathlessness — it’s a marker, a ‘take notice’, a time to make an informed decision. Slow down and breathing gets easier, getting fitter also makes breathing easier.
As we work our bodies to the point that we are today, whether work or through our chosen activities, a mark is left on our patterns of movement, muscle memory, likes, dislikes and avoidance patterns.
Some recent work is beginning to suggest that taking anabolic steroids[ii] can lead to decades of changed ability to regain bulk and exercise tolerance. NOT recommended, but it suggests that we can alter our patterns, not just by activity now, today, but that we instil changes by the choices we make.
We happily accept that repeated place-kicking, throwing a ball or swinging a golf club is a positive thing. Reinforcement, motor memory, learned behaviour. We know that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. That’s a little over 416 days. A long time in gym terms, but trivial in terms of an adult man’s life.
Why then are we surprised when poor movement habits lead to poor adaptation?
Give yourself space. Move regularly. Be fitter than you need day-to-day over a range of movement and exercise types and you will grow an outer skin that hovers around you like an atmosphere. This is your cushion, an area into which you can stress yourself on occasion with a much reduced risk of injury.
- Don’t become one of the worried well
- Act intelligently and read widely
- Remember the ‘Half-life of facts’
- Plump the fitness cushion regularly to give yourself space
[ii] Wiley (2013, October 27). Brief exposure to performance-enhancing drugs may be permanently ‘remembered’ by muscles. Ingrid M. Egner, Jo C Bruusgaard, Einar Eftestøl & Kristian Gundersen. A cellular memory mechanism aids overload hypertrophy in muscle long after an episodic exposure to anabolic steroids. Journal of Physiology, 2013