Most people, when they think of ‘getting fit’, they think of cardiovascular fitness as the most important thing. Whilst this is important, is can be a very one dimensional and limited way of looking at ‘fitness’ or ‘health’.
When we speak of being ‘fit’ we are referring to the state of being physically and mentally sound and healthy, being suitably adapted to an environment and our ability to cope and ideally flourish in our environment (including the ability to perform the tasks required of us in that environment)
What is the stereotypical image almost everyone envisages of an elderly man or lady?
They are hunched over, frail, weak, unstable, in pain, and restricted in the way they move.
They are not suitably adapted to navigate their environment…
What is often the beginning of a rapid decline in elderly people?
Falling over and sustaining a significant injury or trauma that the body can no longer deal with or recover from. It is an age-old story (pardon the pun).
So what is the opposite of these signs of ageing?
Lets run through the issues and look for the opposite:
Hunched over —> good posture
Frail & weak —> strong
Unstable —> stable
In pain —> pain free
Restricted movement —> mobility
It would make sense then, to dedicate a fair bit of our ‘fitness’ training to those qualities which would better equip us to delay or ward off the most common consequences of ageing. Right?
We would then be more suitably adapted to our environment.
If you are strong, stable, and mobile then you are a lot less likely to fall over, and if you do fall over you’ll be equipped to deal with the strains and stresses.
Ever seen a toddler fall over?
They almost bounce straight back up. That’s mobility at work. Perfect untainted mobile joints and muscles absorbing impact and dispersing forces evenly throughout the body.
If we can add strength on to a good foundation of mobility & stability then that is perfect
(if you try to add strength without this foundation then problems occur)
I was training one of my clients recently, and he came out with a fantastic way of putting it whilst doing a set of squats:
‘Building strength is like adding credit to the ageing bank’
I have stolen that quote and have used it several times since.
We are all going to get older, weaker, less mobile, less flexible, we can’t stay young forever, it is an inevitability, (at least for now) but what you do throughout your life will determine how ‘fit’ you are to deal with your environment when you’re 85 years old, and your quality of life.
Having adequate cardiovascular fitness or health is still obviously important but the point of this email is not to point out the obvious, it is to point out the commonly overlooked.
Don’t get caught up in excess cardio training at the expense of more important qualities, there is a balance. Extra cardio is not a currency you can use to ward off the most common consequences of ageing.
Improve strength, stability & mobility (and in turn functionality) and start building up some more useful credits in your ageing bank.