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Jockology: Triple bill on fitness in your 50s!

October 8th, 2009

The Globe is running a special section on fitness in your 50s, so there are three Jockology columns in today’s paper:

The question

How should I train in my 50s?

The answer

When Ed Whitlock became the first septuagenarian to run a marathon in under three hours in 2003, it was thanks to a simple but gruelling training plan: two- to three-hour runs around a local cemetery, nearly every day.

That regimen presented two key challenges that are familiar to any masters athlete: staying healthy and – just as important but less obvious – staying motivated. In fact, when asked why his race performances in his 50s were less impressive than in the years before and after, Mr. Whitlock points to his motivation…

and

The question

How much will I slow down in my 50s?

The answer

The physical attributes that determine athletic performance – maximal oxygen uptake, as well as muscular strength and power – typically start to decline slowly at about the age of 35, and much more rapidly at about 60…

and

The question

Now that I’m in my 50s, what’s the cumulative effect of all the exercise I’ve done?

The answer

Unless you’ve made a dramatic turnaround after a severely misspent youth, it’s inevitable that some of your body parts don’t work as smoothly as they did a few decades ago. It may be tempting to blame that on the punishment you’ve inflicted on your body during years on playing fields, ice rinks and jogging paths – but the truth is more likely the other way around.

Researchers have a good idea of the average rates of decline you can expect for various systems. And for almost every sign of aging you can think of – muscle loss, weight gain, artery hardening, joint stiffening – there have been studies suggesting exercise slows it down…

There are also some neat graphics there, though the formatting is a bit messed up. Hopefully they’ll get cleaned up as the day goes on.

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