Do’s and don’ts for aging athletes

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Being athletic will keep your body looking and feeling young for many years, but the natural process of aging will eventually catch up with you. When your body is 50 or 60 years old, it does not heal the same as your younger body could. If you want to stay athletic as you age, a little extra TLC can go a long way toward preventing injuries and recovering from workouts.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep you fit and active for many years to come.  

DO NOT assume you are immune to injury because you are physically fit. Even the most seasoned athletes still need to be careful. Your muscles and hormones change as you age, and these changes affect your strength and endurance. If you have concerns, a physical therapist or athletic trainer can evaluate your performance and recommend injury prevention strategies.

DO rest your muscles after a workout. Strength training is important for aging athletes, but don’t overdo it. Older athletes are more prone to overuse / repetitive motion injuries than are younger athletes. Take a little more time to recover, and your body will thank you for it. You may also want to increase antioxidants like vitamin C and E to reduce muscle soreness.

DO hydrate your body every day. Try to drink at least 64 ounces (2 L) of water daily. This is good for healthy muscles, healthy skin, and healthy cells.

DO NOT continue working out when your body hurts. Pain is your body’s way of telling you when to stop. One advantage of growing older is that you can recognize your body’s cues.

DO take injuries seriously. Even minor injuries can become major if they are not addressed properly. If you ever need an expert opinion, talk to one of our orthopedic specialists.

DO take time for a warm up and cool down, and stretch every day. Loss of flexibility is a natural part of aging.

DO NOT train hard all season. Follow a routine that focuses on different levels of intensity each week. One week on, one week off is a good strategy for aging athletes. And remember to balance intense muscle-building workouts (anaerobic exercise) with cardio and endurance (aerobic exercise).

DO get up early to train. Life gets busy as you get older. The last thing you feel like doing is a 30-minute work out before bedtime. Instead, go to bed early so you can rise earlier. Start your day with a healthy breakfast and workout.

Many of our patients lead an active, healthy lifestyle. You rely on us to keep your bones and muscles healthy, so you can enjoy hiking, cycling, kayaking, or rock climbing at any stage in life.

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For personalized advice for staying athletic as you age, schedule a consultation at a Tucson Orthopaedic Institute office near you. We can customize a training plan to keep you feeling 10 years younger.