Fitness and Health for Older Athletes

Discussion in 'Living in Cancun & Riviera Maya' started by V, Nov 8, 2009.

  1. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    This represents the start of a new thread, devoted to the fitness and health of older athletes. I use the term, "athletes," intentionally, because it's my plan to advocate the concept of "optimal health," as opposed to good health, which many have accepted, in the past, as a reasonable standard to which to aspire. But, it is possible for older athletes to achieve a state of physical health much like that of younger people when their bodies are properly trained, and fueled. The principles of modern medicine, medical research, and sports medicine research will be the guide.

    All of us will sicken and die, at some point. It is to push that process as far into the future as possible, that is our goal. It is what in medicine is termed, "frailty." that we wish to avoid, if possible, prior to our death.

    Frailty has been defined as, "A condition, seen particularly in older patients, characterized by low functional reserve, easy tiring, decrease of libido, mood disturbance, accelerated osteoporosis, decreased muscle strength, and high susceptibility to disease." All of us have seen those who are frail. The shuffling gate of an old man, the bent posture of an old woman, is what we're referring to, to some degree. On the other hand, there are those who learned at an earlier stage of life to push themselves, physically, beyond what was expected of their years, who enjoy many of the pleasures of younger people, far into old age.

    This thread is intended mainly for those 50 years and older, those who still have a chance, by taking action now, to push back the boundaries they would otherwise have encountered in their lives. Those who haven't quite gotten there, yet, are welcome to contribute their experiences, and findings, as well.

    On this thread, people will share their experiences, and knowledge gained, as they have tested the boundaries imposed on them by their own genetic inheritance, the only limit over which they have no control.
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    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  2. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    Positive health benefits of living in cancun

    Many older people have commented on the positive effects on their health that comes from living here, in part because of the clean air, almost year round sunshine, and a climate conducive to outdoor activities.

    Here are some comments from one of our active posters to this forum, on this very theme, taken from the thread, "Why do you live in Cancun?"
    Others, including myself and my wife, have experienced similar, positive effects on our overall health, and activity levels, that have come about as a result of being here, in Cancun. We will continue to explore these themes, and others, as we go forward with this thread. I do not expect to find our experiences to be at all unique.
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    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  3. RiverGirl

    RiverGirl Guest

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    This relates to people of all ages but lots of people with asthma move here because of the climate. Asthma all but disappears here.

    And the air here is really clean, so people with pollution-induced or -aggravated lung problems thrive here too.

    Sorry, I'm too young to read or contribute to this thread...will stop now.
     
  4. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    NEVER TOO OLD, NOT TOO YOUNG

    Not at all, Rivergirl (and I think I know you were kidding, anyway), while the emphasis is on those who are older, there is much that younger people have also experienced when it comes to fitness and health that they can contribute, here. While older athletes have a number of special issues relating to physical training and health, owing to their age, I thought your point relating the clean air to helping asthma sufferers of any age is a nice contribution.

    Everyone is invited to participate where they feel they have something helpful to add. There is no doubt in my mind, that the sooner one adopts a concept of optimal health, and pursues it, the better, in terms of preserving, or restoring, a high level of energy, stamina and function.
     
  5. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    TRAINING VS EXERCISING

    I have also used the term, "training," intentionally, to distinguish it from "doing exercise." Exercise as a concept is very different from training, which has as its goal, progressive increase, over time, of respiratory capacity, stamina, and strength. Do you walk, two miles a day, for exercise? Well done, then. But, have you considered the possibility that, approached properly, you could, over time, be running those two miles, deriving the extra benefits to your body that would produce, and be enjoying a more vigorous life, filled with more energy and optimism for the future, than you've felt before?

    As a result of training, applied over a considerable period of time, I, for example, have become almost tireless, in my old age. I've never had this much energy, and stamina, at any time I can remember, in the past. Whereas, a day of shopping used to tire me out, it no longer does. I could give many such examples of the differences, but waking up in the morning, eager to start the day, is one of them. I was never a person who exercised, at all, and started, late in life. Now, my training is the high point of my day. My wife, having joined the fun, now says the same thing.
    ___________________

    In the near future, I will address the issue of sports injuries, a real issue for older athletes- more susceptible to them as they are, and slower to heal.

    Please be aware, I'm advocating no system of training, nor even that you start doing more exercise, at this point: I'm merely trying to establish a frame of reference for what is to follow.

    I'm sure there are older athletes out there for whom it may be a challenge merely to climb two flights of stairs, without stopping for breath. Even if that describes you, and you have some physical limitations, or other health problems that limit what you can do, the concept of training can, nevertheless, be applied for your future benefit, and enjoyment of life. However, any program of training must be carefully tailored to the present state of fitness, and general health of the individual concerned, or harm could result.
     
  6. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    NO EFFORT, NO GAIN

    Another concept that I'd like to suggest is that there can be no gain, without effort. So, to train will mean to expend energy, to work, to make an effort.

    However, the popular slogan, "No Pain, No Gain," has no place in the training program of an older athlete, except as a humorous remark. If pain results from training, it should be understood to be a sign something is wrong, and you should stop what you're doing, immediately, to assess the cause of the pain. If the pain is a result from training the day before, such as somewhat sore muscles, it should be taken as a sign that perhaps the training was a little too intense, and that you may need to dial back the intensity, somewhat; or, provide more time for rest and recovery, between training sessions.

    The goal will be slow, progressively greater capacity to perform the work of training, while avoiding all injuries. Should a sports injury, or illness, cause you to experience a disruption in your training program, it will not take long to have lost any precious gain you may have achieved by your efforts.

    So, the motto is, and will be, "easy does it." Regularity of training will be understood to be more important than intensity in maintaining progress.
     
  7. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    SPORTS INJURIES

    I'd like to take a moment, now, to share a little personal experience, and to invite the readers to do likewise.

    More than two years ago, I began climbing stairs in the apt building in which I live, for exercise. I found it very satisfactory, being indoors, and therefore not subject to weather interruptions; being close at hand, and easily accessible; requiring no special equipment, and being highly flexible in terms of intensity, and duration.

    The first time I tried, it, I only managed seven stories before I'd had enough. Over the next year and a half, I'd progressed to 80 stories, up and down. The program was working beautifully for me; then, I made an error of judgment, leading to a sports injury.

    Things were going so well, and I was feeling so good- now that I was living in Cancun, and breathing that good air- I decided to increase the intensity of the training, by climbing both more, and faster. Too much, too soon, as it turned out, I was doing 120 stories, in 40 minutes.

    Then, it happened. I began to experience pain and swelling, and a lump, in one achilles tendon. I self-diagnosed this as early tendonosis, a stage beyond tendonitis, in which micro tears in the tendon resulting from repetitive stress cannot heal before it is reinjured by the same repetitive stress. I knew I'd have to modify my training program to reduce this stress. So, I began cycling, to replace the stair climbing, and the tendon has now almost returned to its former state of health.

    Yes, as I said before, "easy does it," the goal being slow, steady progress, while avoiding all sports injuries.
     
  8. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    TIME REQUIRED

    People often wonder how they will find time for any kind of an exercise program, and time is always a problem for busy adults. I set a limit on the time commitment of no more than 50 minutes/day, including a warm up period of ten minutes. This is enough time to get in the 40 minutes of intense exercise that has been found to produce an optimal cardio-vascular result.

    Still sound like a lot? Just remember that you have to be pretty fit to exercise for 40 minutes at a high intensity, so in the beginning you may find that you will not need nearly that much time to do all that is appropriate to your present physical condition. I mentioned as an extreme example a person who found it hard to climb two stories without stopping to rest. Their need for exercise can perhaps be met, initially, by the time it takes to do that, each day, gradually adding a few stairs as their fitness improves. You can see from that example what I mean, and apply it to your own case to decide how much time you'd need, initially.

    In the end, time set aside for training will pay dividends in ways that may be hard to predict; but, here are a few examples- being able to work better, and longer, as a result of having more energy; having fewer back aches, and feeling well, more often; or, needing less sleep, among others, the range of possible, positive responses of your body to an appropriate training regime being large.
     
  9. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    SURPRISING BENEFITS OF BEING FIT

    Being more fit can sometimes save your life.

    I mention the time my wife and I were wading and swimming in the sea, just above waist deep, when we suddenly found ourselves swept into 15-20 foot depths of water, and being swept out to sea and away from the beach from which we'd come, by a tidal current, flowing strong between two islands. Swimming at a 90 degree angle to the current and generally towards the nearest island brought us to land after a swim of perhaps 30 minutes- by then well away from where we'd started. Had either of us been less fit, the outcome could have been different.
     
  10. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    Choice of exercise

    You'll notice that, up to this point, I've not recommended any particular form of exercise. This will be for you to decide, but there are certain things to keep in mind.

    Whatever exercise you choose, it should be something you imagine you'd enjoy doing, if you're not already; or, doing more of it, if you are.

    It should also be something that you can do continuously, with levels of exertion that you can easily adjust. Examples of these are such things as walking, swimming, jogging or cycling. Examples of those that are too "stop and go" to be ideal, would be something like tennis, or badminton. While these are nice to do, they do not lend themselves to easily controlling the level of exertion, and the heart rate that engaging in these activities will produce. This is important, because we will want to do an exercise that will train and condition the heart of the older athlete, without subjecting it to any stress unnecessary to the training process.

    Heart rate (beats per minute) will be used as the best measure of the level of exertion, at all points in the exercise session. I will say more about this, later.
     
  11. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    Watch those labels

    Have you noticed how hard it is to avoid excess salt, and sugar, in processed foods, here in Mexico? I thought it was bad in the states, but Mexicans seem to have a real sweet tooth, for one thing.

    Oatmeal's good for you, right? No saturated fat, naturally high in fiber, etc., etc. Recently, I looked more carefully at the label of some instant oatmeal I'd been using and enjoying in large quantities, mislead by the packaging which proclaimed, "No Sugar Added"! But, when I finally looked at the fine print in the nutritional information (I have no idea where they can find type that small), and calculated from the number of grams of sugar it contained to the number of teaspoons of sugar that would represent, it came to seven teaspoons of sugar! Goodness gracious....

    That little event made me start looking more closely at other labels- on the canned corn I liked, for example. A single serving of that had almost 1,000 grams of salt! Too much, when the optimal maximum daily sodium intake is just 1,800.

    Anyone trying to observe a good diet, not too heavy in salt or sugars, must read carefully, when it comes to processed foods, here, and go online when necessary for a calculator that will help you convert grams to ounces, or other measures you're more familiar with.
     
  12. limejello

    limejello Enthusiast Registered Member

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    My husband puts a lot of salt on his food. I'm not sure how prevalent it is, but I know he and his family use the word salado/a and rico/a almost interchangeably, implying that something that is salty is delicious.

    V, one thing I do if I can't find a food in season and have to use a canned variety, I put it in a colander and rinse off the salt with tap water. That goes for beans, corn, or any other canned veggies that usually contain a ton of salt.
     
  13. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    Sodium in the diet

    I haven't read how prevalent high blood pressure is, here, but I bet it is a big problem, just as it is in the U.S.- where so many are on blood pressure medicine when a severe limitation of sodium intake would probably get the job done for most!

    limejello, your suggestion of rinsing the canned corn sounds good to me.
     
  14. limejello

    limejello Enthusiast Registered Member

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    I'm not sure how big of a problem high blood pressure is in Mexico. I would imagine that possibly that with the variety of other spices used on food, salt might not be used in nearly the quantity that it is in the U.S. The American palate is used to fatty, salty, but otherwise bland food.

    V, you might be interested in this article (I'm sure it won't be surprising): Over 90% of U.S. adults consume twice the recommended limit for sodium intake

    I just found this re: hypertension in Mexico:
     
  15. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    So, hypertension is a problem here, just as in the U.S. Odd, though, that those three states mentioned would have a so much lower incidence of hypertension than the others.
     
  16. J_Kali

    J_Kali Newbie Registered Member

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    V---- GREAT, GREAT, GREAT INFORMATION!!! I think it is awesome that you are putting out this information for "older athletes"! Let alone your line "training is not just exercise" you are very, very intelligent my friend! KUDOS!

    Limejello---- I am def no doctor and couldn't tell you exactly the health issues with having salt on food. I know "too much" salt intake can be misconstrued, I know in the 90s there was def a "DONT EAT TOO MUCH SALT" along with the "YOLKS IN EGGS CAUSE CHOLESTEROL".........these have both been scientifically proven the past few years to be inconclusive. Athletes need salt. Its a mineral inside our bodies that we need. Not saying that there are people in this world that consume more than they should, but just like that old school "food pyramid".......more and more information comes out and shows how things have changed over the years.

    BTW ------ EAT THE YOLKS IN YOUR EGGS PLEASE! :-D
     
  17. V

    V I can choose my own title Registered Member

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    I mentioned in an earlier post the risk of injury, which can set you back in your progress to fitness goals that were going so well before the injury.

    I'm 69 and last spring I started to develop severe pain in the cmc of both thumbs (last joint of the thumb, where it joins the wrist). It hurt to grip anything, even to grip a pen to write. Doctors, of course, said it was to be expected at my age, as they are prone to do.

    Unknown to them was that I had started doing pushups on my fingertips. This loads that joint, but I made no association between the two things, at the time. A sports medicine doctor said I'd developed bone spurs there, that that was causing the pain, as the spurs were dragging across the tendons nearby. Bone spurs can result from repetitive trauma.

    Six months of rest has solved the problem about 95%, so far, and I don't do pushups on my fingertips anymore!