Muay Thai – Kickboxing – Children’s Classes – GRIT

How to Keep Fit & Healthy in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

The hardest part for most articles is catchy and relevant heading to get your interest. This article could have been called:

  • You MUST keep training in your fifties to live well into your 80’s.
  • It is never too late to train routinely and build your fitness.
  • Being over fifty is not old and should not limit your training.

This blog is not written only for people over fifty. The best way to have healthy and fit training in your fifties and beyond is to start the discipline, habits, and lifestyle as early as you can. People over fifty have a lot to teach if only people under thirty would listen! The process of training and living well into your later years begins with the habits you form in your twenty’s, but it is never too late to improve your health with a good routine.

My mentor and lifelong coach, Mick Spinks has contributed to this article greatly, He is 20 years further down the path than me but has always been years ahead of me in wisdom. He is actively living well as he gets closer to eighty and has some essential lessons for anyone that wants to age well. The wise advice is his, the blunt advice is mine.

The older you get the MORE important it is to train routinely. I do not say regular because routine means on a set schedule, consistently, which is what you need. Regular is want you want your bowels to be. Training is also not just exercise, it is routine training, for your life to be healthy and fitter and to live a longer, fuller life full of vitality. Exercise is a part of training, training can also include ‘chores;’ that are active and require effort; like gardening, walking, and working around the house. Chores are great but should not be the only part of your training, you still need specific cardio, stretching, some strength work and some type of movement that uses your whole body. As Mick says, “motion is lotion.” Training is an activity or exercise done routinely, consistently over a long period of time to develop and improve your wellbeing, fitness, strength, cardio and health.

Summary. Due to the reduced concentration span of older people (and everyone these days). I am putting the summary at the start so you can get the point and go back to sleep or read on to learn more.

  • Your age is no excuse for not following a training plan and being active.
  • Lower your expectations and accept sub-maximal training routinely.
  • You are training to improve your quality of life and setting the stage for how you feel daily, 10-20 years in advance.
  • Discipline is the key, plus some friends and some fun.
  • There are no excuses, as you can train and work around anything. Learn and find new things to do or stick to what you know and change your expectations and goals to simple ones like: Training is the goal.
  • Training makes you feel better!

How old are you v’s how old do you feel?

Mick Spinks believes that managing your health on your life’s journey is the most important aspect of an individual’s ability to move through the decades achieving goals and in good health. Establish a base as early as possible and it will last you forever.  

As you get older, how you feel defines you not your drivers license (while you have it). What every aging person knows is that your age varies thought the day. You can be fifty-five but wake up feeling seventy-five, you feel twenty-five between 10:30 and 12:30 but drop to eighty-five at 3:00pm then feel fifty until after dinner and about 9:30pm you feel seventy again. Your actual age only seems like an average.

You feel better when you exercise and immediately after because your body is happy with you, and it feels pride. You never start your training feeling young and the warmup is often like a shock and wall to climb over. The training feels hard the whole time and anything involving getting up and down makes you age quicker. You skip the cool down because you are done, and stretching is just depressing so you stop. All of that is real and ok. You are not twenty and must change your expectations! 

Warm up longer – train a ta steady but challenging pace, something you know you can achieve – push your self in bursts but allow yourself to ease off on alternate activities – reduce the time you spend training and reduce the intensity to shorter intervals with longer easier alternatives – cool down longer with walking and chatting – if you sit to stretch, finish getting up or you might not be able to.

You will feel younger for longer during the day when you train routinely. Training will give you pride, and you will feel go after it making this the youngest part of your day and something to look forward to every day.

AGEING: As you age you need to redefine training hard. Training hard gets riskier and will be much harder to recover from and will increase the risk of injury. This will degrade your quality of life and not worth it if the training puts you in decline for a few days. You need to train to avoid injuries. Yes, have a schedule but as you get closer to eighty, you need to be flexible with when and adjust to how you feel and what you are capable of at the time. Your schedule may be to train every morning before breakfast, but you may need to switch the yoga for a walk on some days, or the swim for stretching on others. When you do chores around the house, you may need to use that to replace your planned ‘workout’ as you are not smart to over do it on one day and make the other days less productive. Being retired is also about choice, options, and less obligations.

Discipline is the key. Motivation is unreliable. You must set a schedule and train no matter how you feel. Do something every day. Have a plan that is not hard every day. The hardest part is starting the training. To train every day, you must vary intensity and have easy days when walking or swimming is ok. Working around the house, mowing the lawn can be part of the training. Other days are harder because you are engaging in an activity like strength training, bike riding in the forest, running, swimming laps or a combination of both. Balance you are training with adequate rest and mindful activities like reading and listening to smart people (research-based articles) on podcasts. 

Train before your day gets on top of you and be available for yourself every day. Mornings are great but you can also train in the evening when there is less work and your kids have left home anyway. What else are you doing? Watching other people’s lives on TV or SM? Set a time, book it out and have it for you because your future you will thank you for it.

Training is to follow a plan as best you can. Turn to your own training schedule no matter how you feel. It is ok to change the plan and change the Mountain bike ride to a walk – 10 reps to 6 – reduce the size of the weight – take longer to do your swim.

Training sub maximal must be accepted. Training will make you feel better no matter how lame the training might be to your younger self. Training slow and steady and even shorter and easier is always better than no training and developing excuses to not train. A reason is not an excuse, but a reason is something you can work around and re-plan.

An excuse is a contagious virus.

Choices are more important than your schedule. You can decide you will go for a 45 min walk tomorrow. Do it! It does not matter if you do it on a schedule, but it matters that you do not choose to watch Netflix instead. You can be flexible when you are retired and let the coffee chat go longer than planned but make choices about what you will do and do not entertain yourself or get distracted until you do it. It can be too easy to ‘avoid’ your training. Good health is the 100’s of little decisions every day.

Change your expectations. You are getting older all the time. Slower, prone to injuries, weaker, less athletic, your reactions are slower and any development you may be achieving takes longer. The fact is, you are no longer able to develop your fitness as you are training to SLOW your decline. You cannot improve your bench press weight or your 100m sprint time, but you can slow the process and live well doing it. You can only train to slow your decline and enjoy maintenance of your health.

You Trian for mental health reasons and feeling good as much as or more than any physical goals. You can learn new skills, take up Muay Thai or Tai Chi or do something different which will aid your development, but you cannot brake records anymore. You can beat other people your age. You have more vitality, recover quicker, look better and have more energy for life. Training will make you ‘tougher to kill’ and your family will be proud of you. It takes only a small consistent effort daily to be healthier and stronger than 80% of people out there and your body will thank you.

You are going from wanting to improve to just being happy to do it. When falling can kill you, you should be preparing 20 years earlier to not be falling.

To be fit and healthy when you are seventy, you must start when you are fifty! The problems you get walking, standing, with balance and strength are never too late to work on but they can be reduced massively if you remember that the prevention starts 10 years before the ailment hits you.

Manage your injuries and time but train anyway. Everyone has an injury. Everyone over fifty has a health problem and an excuse to not train. You do not want your training to contribute to your injuries, so you need to adjust to avoid injuries. It just depends on where you draw the line. Look for inspiring people, not excuses. You can work around everything. The body is amazing, it can adapt, and you can rebuild from virtually anything. It may take years and daily efforts, but it is worth it. The alternative is the contagion of excuses and a faster mental and physical decline so when you are seventy, you look and feel ninety.

I am fifty-four and after a 12-year break from any cycling I completed a 24-hr. solo Mountain bike race. I had had eight reconstructive surgeries and been hospitalized five times from illness in those 12 years. I did it out of discipline, changing my expectations, managing my injuries, and accepting a lower standard of my training. When I got to the race, I was already proud of myself > then in the tent beside me was a lady older than me, who was an amputee who rode the entire 24 hr. ride. Made my injuries feel like a worthless excuse. Sure, she was slower, but she did it. What have you done?

Find something you like to do and people you like to do it with. If your training can be part of your socializing, then you are likely to do it more often and enjoy going even if you hate the training.  The main point, however, is not socializing, it is training!

However, if you have no friends that want to train with you or cannot find something to do as a group, train alone. I do. I run a Muay Thai club, I ride a  mountain bike and do farm work, but I gave up on people doing things with me long ago. The fact is it is easy to use other people as an excuse. Have NO excuses and do what you want to do regardless of who shows up. You are doing it for you, not for others, so ensure you do it anyway. Inspire others, never follow them. I often cannot find people to ride with me because I ride to ride and not chat, and I like really hard hills. I have to do my Muay Thai alone because I coach for a job, and you can’t do both at the same time. I do love training with others but as you get older, it is harder to keep up with the physicality of younger people. It is hard for people my age to keep up with me – so I end up alone, but I never end up not doing it.

Never ride an E-Bike. I have a complete other blog about the evil of E-bikes. It matters here as you have no excuse to buy an E-bike as a reason to be able to go riding. It is just a search for easy and not a form of training. If you are thinking, I will go riding if I get an E-bike, you have the wrong mindset and are missing the entire point. Get a real bike and pedal it up a hill! Ride, build up how long and how far. People who ‘ride’ an E-bike cannot transition to a real bike because they remain weak, do not develop and don’t get the right mindset to improve themselves. (If you are 85+, consider an E-bike to get out and about)

Walking is fantastic but walking alone is not training. Walking is life. The mental time walking is a time to feel the world, to think and be at peace. Walking can be a part of your training, on easy days or for pleasure but as a rule, look at working as a basic life skill not the peak of training. Plan walking holidays to go trekking and walk to Trian for it if you can.  Walking is a base for the very unfit or inactive but needs to be developed from there as you can cope with more exercise. Golf is not a sport unless you walk around the course! Walking needs to be in everyone’s training plan. Even very fit people need a good walk. Try an audio book or listen to the world.

Why training and not exercise. You need to think of your exercise routine as training. You need to move beyond thinking if, when you exercise and ensure you have a training plan to do things and not include things you would normally do into your training even if they are ‘exercise’. Training means getting your heart rate up more than walking slowly for a period though cardio and strength related activities that are challenging. Doing a sport or regular activity like the gym, the pool, riding.

As you age you move from doing barely achievable activities to push yourself to do activities you know you can do safely and within your limits.

You can start anything that interests you because new things are more stimulating. I stick to what I know and can do, I just do them with less intensity and more options.

What is your excuse? I am sure you already have one, but the fact is no one care’s and you need to move beyond your excuses and look for – what you can do not what you cannot do!  Sure, you will have bad days, injuries and sicknesses but I am talking about lifestyle and choices not a one-off fitness class or diet. Oh but, I am different, I have sick grand kids, one leg, one lung, one eyebrow and sore knees. Everyone has something, you are not special, toughen up precious and get over yourself. 

How important is diet? This should be the first part of this article. As you get older it is more important. Socializing excuses, the enjoyment of wines, pleasures, dining out and the nicer things can become more routine. Like you have earned it and deserve it because of your ‘hard’ life. You are now celebrating more just for being alive. The reverse is true. You get away with more when you are younger and can abuse your body with less consequences.

Eat well and try changing your diet before taking ‘pills or more medication. “Treat yourself occasionally, don’t live the treat” – Mick Spinks. Everyone has different genetics that can be a factor, but the biggest factor is lifestyle and bad choices which contribute to a weaker immune system.

Old people (like 80+) always have health problems however how you eat and fuel yourself when you are 50+ is critical to how your body will treat you the longer you live.

You have already started experiencing bowl problems, sore feet, sore joints, menopause, sleeping disorders, injuries from getting out of the car and hundreds of other little things that ruin your day. People over fifty start to drop off at an increasing rate for ailments they did not see coming all the time. This only gets worse as you age and the best way to do your best to live well is to eat well, from now.

Drink more water. Drink less alcohol because whatever you are drinking now is too much. Go out for dinner 1-2 times a week and try as much as possible to eat whole foods and a balanced diet. Retirement coffees are ok but cut back the sweats. You will get to the point where all you eat is delivered meals or are in a home. Delay this as long as possible and get good habits now. You are old enough to stop kidding yourself and make better choices. Excuses and rationalization are not smart it is a weakness.

Summary

Have you forgotten already the summary was first!

I just googled Fitness 50+ to look for a cool photo but then I noticed all the ‘images’ of fit 50+ people. Fit for people 50+ is not based on vanity and how ripped you look. If a cut physique from body building is your thing, good for you. For most people though, it is not how one should define or think of fitness. Get over your vanity reasons for training and do it to be healthy and feel good.

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