Much to every car owner’s dismay, machines aren’t self-repairing systems just yet. If you’re experiencing a wobbly ride, the closest you can get is a wheel-balancing machine for sale. You still have to operate it yourself. Ignore the issue, and it only gets worse, not better.
Thankfully, our bodies are different. Living systems can regulate and maintain themselves to an extent. Skip the gym and indulge yourself over the holidays, and you’ll certainly gain a few pounds. But you’ll still be alive and capable of working your way back into shape.
However, age impairs that capacity for recovery. This is of particular concern to adults who subscribe to the ‘weekend warrior’ regimen because they can’t fit exercise anywhere else into their busy lifestyles. Can you really manage the negative effects of age?
Warming up, cooling down
The WHO recommends that adults between the ages of 18-64 get 150 minutes of moderately intense activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or some combination thereof, during a week.
Weekend warriors tend to be too busy on weekdays, so they squeeze maximum effort into a game with their buddies or an individual workout session when they have time.
The desire to go all-out in a limited amount of time increases the risk of injury. And age further compounds the risks. Our muscles, joints, and tendons change. Reaction times slow down. The ability to heal from injury is diminished, as well as the recovery period itself.
All of these disadvantages can be offset to a degree by investing in a proper warm-up routine. Spend more time easing yourself into the right condition for exercise. Include balance and core exercises, as our equilibrium also decreases with age.
And don’t forget to take a day off. That means no back-to-back weekend training. It risks injury. You’re better off letting it slide or else getting a few minutes of aerobic activity in on weekdays. Remember, they all count.
Maintaining physical performance
“No one can beat Father Time” is a common saying across all sports. Even the greatest in any athletic activity will eventually have to retire.
While you can’t fend off the loss of physical performance, studies show that veteran athletes who continued to adhere to a strict training regimen mitigated the drop-off. The majority, who discontinued training, saw a rapid decline.
These changes are related to a decrease in VO2max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise and fast-twitch muscle fibers.
If you want to reduce the decline associated with aging, continue to train as hard as you’re accustomed to. Or step it up a notch, safely, of course. And try to optimize your diet so that you have more lean muscle mass versus body fat.
Stay strong mentally
Our physical ability doesn’t entirely come down to what our bodies can do. Often, it’s also a matter of how far your mind tells you to go.
Mental toughness affects performance, and this is another factor that tends to diminish with age. Our pain tolerance is lower, and we feel less inclined to suffer.
You can work on this aspect of training, too. But keep in mind that it plays an important role in our survival. The brain is wired to take care of the body. Pain signals may be something to power through, or they could be something that needs your urgent attention and response.
Training on weekends may continue to be the only reasonable option for a lot of people. The demands of modern living don’t seem likely to change anytime soon. But with the right measures, you can continue to perform effectively without increasing risk.