March 12

Reverse Aging, Keep Jogging

"Knowing how to age and not being afraid of aging is very healthy" - Evelyn Lauder

If your immediate thought is "I'd like to reverse aging but I hate jogging". Then change "jogging" to "walking" or "hiking" ... or even "shopping"! Or any other activity that demands more time on your feet.

As you read (or skim through) the article, you'll realise that the benefits of more time on your feet are too great to ignore.

Also wherever you read run or runningit is synonymous with jogging, walking or just more time on your feet.

The Effects of Aging

From age 30 onwards, many unfavourable changes take place in our bodies, these include:

  • Increased body fat,
  • Reduced muscle mass,
  • Decreased aerobic capacity,
  • Diminished elasticity in muscles, joints and lungs,
  • Reduced bone density,
  • Slower metabolism and a
  • Weaker immune system.

All these changes reducing our physical capabilities. So from a peak in the 30s, performance deteriorates by about 1% a year.

However, older runners can continue to perform impressive athletic feats. As an example, at age 73, Canadian athlete Ed Whitlock ran a marathon in 2:54:48. Carlos Lopes set the world marathon record at the age of 38.

The good news is that the negative effects can be delayed.

The Benefits of Running for Older People

The health benefits of running are in general the same for older people as for everybody else.

They include a reduction in the risks of:

  • Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer;
  • Depression and anxiety;
  • Being overweight;
  • Weakening bones, muscles and joints;
  • Poor mobility and coordination.

As you grow older, these risks increase together often in tandem with a decreased sense of well-being.

The benefit of running is that it improves muscle strength, coordination and bone density. This reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones and increases the prospects for living independently longer.

How to Start Running and Reverse Aging

No one is too old to start running.

The medical profession recommends that anyone over the age of 50 gets a check-up by a doctor before beginning any exercise programme. 

I think that in many cases this is not required! But it is vital to assess your capabilities and make your own decision.

Apart from having a medical check-up, the advice for a new, older runner is the same for a new, younger runner. 

Be sensible, build up slowly, and set realistic goals.

Tips for Older Joggers

In most cases, performance with age will reduce. But with the appropriate reverse ageing training, the progressive decrease in aerobic capacity can be halved. 

So how do you manage the effect of aging?

The first thing is to acknowledge you re not as young as you were! So you need to protect muscles and joints, which are less elastic and more prone to injury than when you were younger.

With that in mind here are some warnings and ideas to consider:

  • Very Important - before any exercise, warm up properly and stretch afterwards;
  • Avoid breaking down through overtraining by taking it easy. This means take more rest days to allow your body to repair and get stronger;
  • Reduce the quantity and increase the quality of training. 
  • Introduce some variety. One easy option is to start interval training;
  • Vary your aerobic exercise. With options like cycling, swimming, aqua-running or skiing;
  • Do some weight training. It helps rebuild some of the muscle mass that is lost with aging. 

Age-graded Results

If you are competitive, there is a fantastic way to measure your relative performance by using age-related tables. These work something like a golf handicap where there is some levelling of the playing field

The use of age-grading tables allows older runners to compete with younger runners and men with women. Age graded performances are gaining popularity in many running clubs, with the age-graded winners being recognised as much as the race winners. The tables provide a comparison of performance across different ages and sexes.

Parkrun is an international organisation with a free, all ability, 5 km timed event on a Saturday morning in over 820 parks worldwide. The age graded results are a feature of all the results.

Running for exercise has many physical as well as psychological advantages. It may not be for everyone. But if you can't run, then jog and if you can't jog, then walk.

"Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out" - Phyllis Diller.


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