There's no getting around it, crossing the four decade mark is a fascinating time. Sure, we may have worked our way up the corporate ladder and hopefully enjoy a little more security and stability, but a build-up of aches and pains, not to mention plummeting energy levels, reminds us that we're not teenagers anymore. With the likes of Tom Brady, 44, Tiger Woods, 46, and Kelly Slater, 48, still wowing critics, many pundits are taking a hard look at why adult athletes seem more likely to live long lives.
M&F spoke to Matt Denning, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science and a PhD in Physical Therapy, to understand why so many athletes in their 40s are still able to keep up with their younger peers and what we can learn from them Achievements to hold back time for us.
Older athletes have an extended “training age”
"Mature athletes often have what we call an improved or extended 'training age,'" says Denning, who is also a TB12 head body coach. "This means that their movement patterns are ingrained over a significant period of time, allowing them to excel in their chosen activity."
Inspired by the training method of seven-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, which he co-founded with longtime body coach Alex Guerrero, TB12 offers personalized programs taught by professionals for athletes of all skill levels.
"Another benefit is that mature athletes can better understand nutrition, sleep, hydration and mindset," adds Denning. "Mature athletes tend to focus on their long-term health rather than short-term gains, which often leads them to place more emphasis on their recovery." TB12 was largely developed by Brady and Guerrero to complete the cycle of the legendary quarterback's own injury setbacks break through The duo found that keeping the muscles tight is a great way to prepare the body for intense athletic activity. So how can we stay fit after 40?
Mature athletes keep muscles supple for optimal performance
"Achieving optimal movement patterns is an essential first step before applying increased loading," says Denning. “We emphasize the importance of pliable fabric as it allows us to ensure proper form and properly dissipate forces to minimize the risk of injury. When increased weight or stress is placed on tissues or joints that are not moving optimally, dysfunction can progress and prevent optimal mind-body connection, increasing the risk of injury and decreasing performance. Supple tissue allows for better vascularization, nerve conduction, and force distribution.”
Indeed, in order to remain active as we age, we must take responsibility for a variety of factors, and we should be proud to place more value on our hard-earned experience and technique. "While many feel they should try harder in the gym to keep up with younger guys, older athletes should be more concerned with their longer-term goals and recovery routine," advises Denning. "Regardless of age, movements should not simply be repeated without guidance, as it is important to focus on longevity when considering what routines and lifestyle choices will work best."
Courtesy of Tb12
Better lifestyle choices make for better rest
"We can maximize our recovery and increase our suppleness by focusing on improved hydration, nutrition, sleep and mindset," says Denning, who points to these simple ways to ensure adequate recovery:
- Consume at least half our body weight in ounces of water each day
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Eat a plant-based and seasonal diet; Avoid highly processed foods
- Sleep 7-9 hours a night to allow the body to optimize the healing process
- Focus on achieving a growth mindset and positive outlook
Focus on low-impact activities
"As you age, consider supplementing with no-impact or low-impact activities like swimming," says Denning. "As with most things, it's about finding a balance between higher-impact activities like running or jumping and lower-impact activities like walking or resistance band training. It is important for healthy individuals to maintain a certain level of impact activity to promote an appropriate level of bone mineral density and tendon health. If higher impact activities are not well tolerated due to bone or tendon disorders, activities such as swimming or cycling should be considered.”
eat the rainbow
We all know beige is blah, so make sure you have as many colors on your plate as possible. "As we get older, it's important to 'eat the rainbow' and limit our intake of the '5 Ws' (wheat, white flour, white liquids (dairy), white carbs, white sugar)," says Denning. “This exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and allows for more optimal cognitive and physical functioning. Eat a high-protein diet along with resistance or punching exercises, as tolerated, to ensure lean body mass is maintained as you age. A supplement like TB12 Recover can be useful to support a healthy inflammatory response, muscle recovery, and joint mobility. A daily multivitamin can also be helpful to fill in gaps lacking in our diets, although getting the necessary vitamins and minerals from our dietary intake is optimal. Limiting or avoiding pro-inflammatory foods and beverages like fried foods and alcohol helps eliminate unnecessary calories and puts the body in an advanced state of performance.”
Train smarter, not harder
"At TB12, we try not to let things like age define us," says Denning. "It's much more important that people train properly. You may not need to exercise fewer days per week, but a reduced volume of time or intensity may be just what is needed. People can train smarter and longer if they know when to accelerate and when to brake. Finding the right volume and intensity can be unique to each person, so listening to your body after a workout can be a helpful indicator.
"Don't let age dictate activity level or mindset! Age is only one piece of the puzzle when we consider activity level, exercise selection, and exercise intensity. Working with a qualified health professional such as a TB12 Body Coach who can guide appropriate exercise will help achieve long-term success in reducing risk of injury and improving performance!”
There is still life in us old dogs.