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    Exercise Away the Years
    Henry S Lodge, MD posted:
    We all grew up thinking of exercise as sweating in gym class, and then, as the world evolved, spandex. But exercise plays a much bigger role in your health than you may know. Turns out exercise controls health dials throughout your body. Not simply in your muscles, but in your arteries, heart, liver, lungs -- the list goes on.
    When you push yourself hard enough to sweat you grow new cells -- better cells. And so you get functionally younger. There are 70-year-old men and women out there with the hearts, lungs, and muscles of 30-year-olds. And there's nothing special about them, except that they show up to exercise on a regular basis, and take it seriously when they do.

    Chris Crowley, the co-author of Younger Next Year , first came to me as a patient at 65. He was heading into retirement, overweight and out of shape. After we talked about the life-changing power of exercise, he jumped into an exercise program with both feet, and more importantly, he stuck with it. Five years later, I took him into the lab and put him on the treadmill. At age 70, he scored among the fittest 10% of American men -- but in the 40-45 age range! Chris has kept up the hard work. And now, at 78, he bikes 50, sometimes 100 miles in the Rockies, travels, lectures, laughs, and loves his life.

    Joy Johnson is another success story I know. Never much of an athlete in school, Joy started running later in life. At age 80, she won her category in the New York City Marathon. But she wasn't finished. She didn't like her time and felt she could do better. So she stepped up her training program. At 81, she won her category again and knocked almost an hour off her previous time.

    Chris and Joy don't have any genetic advantages over you or anyone else. They just stepped up to the plate and made the decision to grow younger.

    How much you exercise and what kinds of exercise you do are important. But what's most important is that you make the choice right now between settling for "normal" aging, or getting younger in the upcoming years.

    What are your thoughts on exercise and aging? Do you currently exercise? Why or why not?
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
    Welcome to the Fitness and Exercise Community Dr. Lodge. This is such an important topic, and one that improves quality of life significantly. One of the dozens of benefits of exercise and aging that impresses me most are the positive effects on brain tissue and blood flow to the brain as people age, and the studies that show prevention or slowing of dementia, perhaps Alzheimer's, and other cognitive and executive function. I've observed over the years such a difference in mood and function for everyone who exercises as they age. I'm looking forward to your discussions on these topics and more. Once again, welcome to the Fitness and Exercise Community. Good to have you! Rich
    sck1714 responded:
    very encouraging, especially the comments regarding Chris's biking distances. I too want to lengthen my bike riding distances from my current 30 miles to 50 and 100. In addition, I lift weights for strength training.

    My goal is to increase strength and bulk. I am 54 years of age, 6', 3", 185 pounds. I began lifting again after an 12 year layoff and have been at it for 4 months using three day split routine, day 1 = legs, day 2 = back/biceps and day 3 = chest and triceps. The weight increases seem very slow to me compared to my early 40's when I stopped. My set/rep is generally 4/7-8 performing 4-5 exercises. I start with the compound exercise and work to isolations. For example: legs: squats, leg extentions, leg curls, calf raises. Back/biceps: deadlift, lats, dumbbell row, preacher curls using low cable, standing dumbbell curls. I vary the isolation exercises every month or so.
    On my off days I ride my road bike 1-2 hours after work and weekends at a 17 mph average pace. I am currently working towards 40 mile rides. The goal is 50 miles in a single ride. Diet is normal and balanced, fruit, vegetable, carbohydrates, proteins, dairy. Low salt and sweets.

    Why such slow gains? What could I do different? I look forward to losing a few years.

    Thank you.
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to sck1714's response:
    Hi sck,

    Your workouts sound good. Of course, gains are slower at 54 than at 40. Don't underestimate that. But they still happen, and at 54, you can be much fitter and stronger than someone at 40 who doesn't train. I'm curious though about what you say are slow gains. How exactly are you measuring your results? What objective measures are you using besides body weight? How about body fat, strength, and circumferences? If your gains in strength are very slow, then you may be over training and need more rest days in between sessions. Muscles grow during downtime, not while you train. You break them down during training, and then they need time to repair. Your recovery will be slower at 54 than at 40, but it doesn't mean you can't gain significantly. You might also do more upper body work during the week. Only 1 day per muscle group may not be enough. Experiment with either full upper body workouts where you work chest, back, shoulders and arms on the same day at least once a weeks, or experiment with other splits where you work these muscle groups more than once a week (e.g., you might do back/biceps twice a week and the same for tri's and chest). You also need more total volume. 7-8 reps isn't enough. Mix it up with 10-12 reps to get more pump.

    As for biking, you don't mention intervals and/or hill work. Once a week to start you should be doing them. Nothing will improve your fitness faster and more significantly than intervals and/or hills. On your hills you can spin faster and keep your cadence up (around 120), or you can gear down and pump up that hill. If there are cycling clubs where you live, train with them. If you're biking a lot then you probably need leg workouts only once a week. Intervals and hills are like a leg workout in the gym so you need to accommodate for that. You might also try plyometrics and explosive lifts for your legs. Plyometrics is jump training that will help increase your leg strength and anaerobic function (important for hills and spitns during biking). You can check out the book, "Jumping Into Plyometrics" by Donald Chu, at and these resources:

    As for measurements, like I said, body fat which they can do at your gym, and circumferences too. The standard circumference measurements are arms (flexed and relaxed), chest (after a normal exhale), shoulders (the widest part), waist (the narrowest part below the ribs and above the belly button), abdomen (across the belly button), buttocks (at the maximum extension of the buttocks), gluteal/thigh (high on the thigh at the groove where the buttocks end), mid-thigh (halfway between the crease in the groin and the top of the knee cap), and calf (at the maximum circumference, either with leg hanging freely off a table or with legs 8 inches apart and weight distributed evenly). Keep the tape horizontal during measurements and pull the tape lightly so it indents the skin only slightly.

    That should get you started. Feel free to post back if you have more questions.

    Take care, Rich
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
    I mean "hills and sprints" in the bike paragraph, not "hills and spitns".
    coach3831 responded:
    I used to run a lot when younger and remembered how good I felt and how happy I was when in good shape. I've decided to make a "come-back" and start racing again when I turn 80 in 7 months. ( senior games, etc. ) My progression has been so slow that I almost relented to what my body was saying..."You're too old, accept getting old, nobody runs at 80!" etc..But, I didn't relent and just recently starting seeing some break-through progress. Then I remembered that it took me about seven years to become a decent runner way back; why should I expect faster progression now? I guess what I'm saying is that it's never easy, young or old, to become real fit and if you give in to all the nay sayers, including yourself, you've got a good chance of becoming a prophet. Bill
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to coach3831's response:
    This is an inspiring post Bill. Thanks for posting it. I really like your reasoning that you remembered that it took you 7 years to become a decent runner when you were younger and so why expect it fatser now. However, I will tell you that there is such a thing as muscle memory, which means that your body (and mind) will "remember" what it was to be fit from before, and so the progression to fitness will be faster. At your peak of fitness at 80 you won't be as fit as you were at the peak of your fitness when you were 50 (simply an age thing), but it doesn't mean you can't be much, much, fitter than many people who are 50 and sedentary, and of course, you can still become very fit yourself.

    Thanks for posting this inspiring message and please keep us updated as to how you're doing. And happy birthday in advance!

    An_248903 responded:
    At 55 years old I decided I was no longer going to settle for the "normal" aging that was going on with my body. I hired a personal trainer and within 6 months I felt like I was 25 years old again.

    I am now 57 and work out everyday. I can honestly say that exercise has changed my life.
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to An_248903's response:
    brunosbud replied to coach3831's response:
    "Every battle is won before it is ever fought." Sun Tzu

    Incredible and amazing. I'd love to sit down, one afternoon, and speak to you, coach.

    hornlaw responded:
    This thread is more than inspiring - it's vital. I'm a 59 year-old male professional who has spent the majority of his time behind a desk. I started walking the 10k steps concept a couple of years ago. When it got boring, I started running some. Actually I ended up doing true intervals and didn't know it... Then this summer I joined a running club (metro area/large membership) and signed up for a training program. Four months later, I've now run 2 5k's, a 10k, a 15k, a 5-mile run and a half-marathon, all with my pace group. I love this. I've never been athletic before so it's a lot of serious work. I'm not fast but that can come if I decide that's what I want. In fact, I my pace group is run-walk, right back where I unknowingly started with intervals. For the spring training I'm thinking about moving up to an all-running group (a big leap - I could just go up to another run-walk @ faster pace), still only for a Half, however. I know that I'm not ready for a Full. Bottom line - I feel better than I have in 30 years. And, running with an organized group has made this happen. I know I'll find the "runner's high", eventually, but now I have to have group support. My goal is not just to qualify for Boston but to get in and run it. If it takes me a few years of training to get there, I've got the time... Besides, I'll sure be healthy when I get there. This is an investment that pays tangible dividends.
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to hornlaw's response:
    Well said Hornlaw. And your running goals sound exciting. I wish you luck with them. In addition to your running, I'm wondering if you're doing any resistance exercise?

    Keep up the good work. Rich
    brunosbud replied to hornlaw's response:

    When I read a post like yours, I can relate, exactly, to the euphoria you're experiencing, now. It's like the discovery of an alternate reality. "How deep does this go? What are my physical and mental limits? How good can I feel?"

    I gave up, a long time ago, trying to explain why I go out at 4:30 every morning with the dogs. My wife has a hard time understanding why I need to walk on the beach for another 40 minutes after dinner, each night. My friends don't really understand why I stopped dining out with them, 5 years ago.

    The answer is simple: I'm exploring; Go away, don't bother me, right now...I need to see how deep this rabbit hole goes..."
    Ganesh replied to brunosbud's response:
    This post was described earlier as inspirational and vital. I'd like to be able to post, very soon, how a discussion thread like this turned my current situation around.

    Reason I say that is because I'm 43 years old, leading a life of a sedentary desk worker, who hasn't renewed his gym membership after it lapsed a couple of months ago, eats a lot when stressed out (needless to say all the wrong kind of foods), weighs 85 kgs (roughly 170lbs) for a height of 5'7". I stopped fitting into any of my work clothes a few weeks ago and my entire wardrobe is undersized for me now. Additionally, I've got the beginnings of stress-related psoriasis which has literally been eating into my self-esteem and causing me social embarrassment. I feel I'm several decades older than I really am, and look the part !

    I will resolve to take steps here and now, especially after reading posts by coach, an,_248903, hornlaw and above all, Rich, who's been kind enough to not just read the posts, but also comment on and leave inspirational notes for each of them. Thank you all and look forward to be able to post a very positive note soon. Off I go, it's still only 9:50am where I live, and it's time to move those really dormant muscles.
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to brunosbud's response:

    I go out at 5:30am or 6:00 because 1) my day starts very early and I want to get it in beforehand, 2) it's time to myself to solve problems, plan my day, and look at the "big" picture, 3) My mood is good all day when I do, and 4) I'll feel bad if I don't. I want my energy high all day, and unless I go out in the morning, my energy won't be as high.

    I like your Rabbit Hole quote. Very nice.

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