Dave has over 40 years of experience in the health and fitness field. His writing promotes his belief that wellness requires regular motion.
Fitness, sports and even competition don't have to end after the school years but can extend well into the senior years. That is a message that Dave is passionate about.
Dave has a BA in Social Phycology with extensive work with the mental health and welfare of military personnel. In addition Dave has most of the graduate work completed for an MPA.
Competitive recreational athletics were once considered an activity for high school and college students. Players on professional sports teams would retire either before or soon after they turned 40. There just were not any opportunities to be competitive after 50, except maybe a bowling league or a softball team. That has all changed. People are not only living longer, but staying active longer. In fact, many people don’t even begin exercising and moving on to competition until later in life. Competition is very possible as we age, but it does require smart training and paying attention to detail.
Many of us never got involved with sports or regular physical exercise, then find ourselves over 50 and wish we had. We can look at our senior years as a second chance. Our younger years were spent making a living and raising a family. There is usually more time and energy for physical activities after the children are grown. Everyone knows that exercise allows us to live, if not longer, at least better quality lives. Starting a regular exercise program is always a good idea. It can even help with “Empty Nest’ anxiety. It allows us to have more strength and endurance for everything. Rediscovering the joy of being in motion often leads to thinking about new goals and challenges.
Exercise alone isn’t enough if we are wanting to be athletic. Since we don’t heal and recover as quickly as when we were 25, preventive measures become more important. Regular massage and stretching will minimize soreness and keep us flexible. Proper well fitting shoes and socks will help to avoid knee and foot problems. Insuring that we eat a good clean diet without a lot of added sugars and chemicals will help with recovery from hard workouts. Where once a minor injury might have meant a few days of taking it easy, now can mean losing a month or more of training. Learning to understand how our body reacts to the stress of training and how much recovery time it needs are the keys to being a successful senior competitor. Research is very limited when it comes to senior level athletes, so we are often learning as we go.
What is available for older athletes? There are U.S.A.Track and Field (USATF) competitions at the regional and national level for all the track and field sports. At the state and national senior games, there are 29 different sports contested in age group categories. There is plenty of competition for the athlete that wants to test him or herself against other senior competitors. Most walk, run, swim and bike events have age group awards. There are also plenty of challenges for an older athlete to test themselves against different distances. Runners and walkers have events available even past the marathon’s 26.2 miles. There are several ultras of various distances that offer a desirable finishers prize, like a medal or belt buckle. Bikers, as well, have long distance events with nice bragging rights awards for finishers. The athlete that chooses hiking has trail events of various distances and difficultly.
Whatever challenges you choose to pursue, it’s important to do some planning and preparation. Start with a visit to your doctor. Discuss your plans to become more active. After the doctor gives you a check up and their blessing, visit a store that specializes in the sport or activity that you are interested in. A store that has employees trained in fitting you properly for a running, walking or hiking shoe can save you a lot of problems later on. Most cities will have a club for participation and promotion of the various activities. They can be a wealth of knowledge and information about local events. You might be surprised that there are other seniors that are just starting out. It’s not just for the guys either. It fact, you will often find more women, of all ages, than men at the races and events.
There is nothing wrong with 30 minutes to an hour of regular exercise three to five times a week. It will help you have a better quality of life during your senior years. But if you desire a little more excitement, there are a lot of opportunities. Chasing dreams and going the distance can still be part of your “Golden Years”. You just have to want it.
It’s not just a step, it’s a start.
Years of personal experience writing articles for adult endurance athletes from beginner to world class. National class race walker.
20 years experience with the military designing and implementing fitness programs for base personnel. Personal experience as coach and athlete.
It has long been said that going the distance will change us forever. This is just as true now as is has been throughout the history of sport, whenever men and women have made the decision to see what they were capable of. How are people changed when they do distance events? When a person crosses the finish line of a 5K, half marathon, full marathon or an ultra event, they are not changed by what they just did over the last several hours. They are changed by what they did in the long months or years, since they first made the decision to pursue that goal.
Often a person makes their fateful decision while watching news coverage of an event, seeing runners and walkers out training in their neighborhoods or a friend asks them to do it with them. Sometimes it’s because they are worried about their weight or another health issue. This is the moment the change begins, not when they finally cross a finish line. Those first few months after their decision is made are usually pretty tough, but also magical as improvement comes quickly.
An adult athlete in training learns to endure discomfort. This can be a very new and frightening experience for a beginning athlete. Seasoned road warriors know that there are going to be times they are really sore, but know it goes away. There will be times they are exhausted to the point not even being able stand under their own power, but that also passes. Becoming stronger, they recover more quickly and that which was once difficult is now easy as new levels of fitness are achieved.
Men who once wouldn't think of going out without their hair combed perfectly or women who wouldn’t be seen in public without their make up just right, soon become comfortable being covered with sweat and hair a mess. Fashion becomes less important than function and comfort. We also come to realize that we aren't all that different from all the other athletes out there training. Like a horse galloping across the pasture, we tend not to care what the cattle we pass think of us, not from an inflated ego, though we are proud, but because we have become comfortable within our own body.
The long workouts teach us that we can do more and go further than we believed possible. We discover that we do indeed have that magic called will power. Spending a couple of hours alone on the road with only our thoughts for company and moving under our own power, teaches us lessons that can be learned no other way. The hard workouts are when we learn, we are not weak but powerful and in control. We become stronger but also tougher.
Somewhere along the way we come to realize that we are not just passing through life, but we are truly alive. We are as we should be, at peace.
It’s not just a step, it’s a start.