According to Joe Friel's latest book ("Fast After 50"), people can still be fit into their 50s and beyond. Among the principles he teaches include strength training, increased protein consumption, more sleep and passive recovery. OutsideOnline.com's Nick Heil read his book and outlined its plan of action in his Aug. 24 article.
A person can be fit well into his or her 50s and beyond.
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This was what Nick Heil of OutsideOnline.com discovered. He read Joe Friel's book, "Fast After 50." National Fatbike champion Ned Overend and national mountain bike champion Travis Brown are featured. Overned is 59 years old. Brown is 46.
Heil also read several other books. These include "Older, Faster, Stronger," "Second Wind" and "Spring Chicken." Heil became interested because he is almost 50 years old. He says his interest "was both professional and personal."
Of all these books, "Fast After 50" was the most fascinating for Heil.
Heil gives credit to the other authors. Their books were informative and entertaining. What sets Friel's book apart is its plan of action. Friel is 71 years old. He is an endurance coach who wrote the "Training Bible" series.
After reading Friel's book, Heil says ordinary people can battle aging. This will take discipline and hard work.
Friel says there are four things that go with aging: lower aerobic capacity, increased body fat, smaller muscles and decreased mobility. Heil outlined them in his article.
Heil cites a quote from Friel's book:
"There is reason to believe that the major contributor to the performance decline in athletes as they get older is nurture, with nature playing a smaller role. As we age, exercise behavior (nuture) appears to play a significant role in how our given genetic biology (nature) plays out."
Friel believes a an older person has to intensify his heart rate. Increased workout intensity is one of the keys to staying fit, per OutsideOnline.com.
Friel includes Michael Pollock's study done during the 1970s. It examined 24 runners between the ages of 42 and 59. Thirteen runners stopped competing after 10 years. The remaining 11 continued running at high intensity, per Heil.
The VO2 max of the 13 runners dropped by 12 percent. The 11 runners' VO2 max dropped by just 1.6 percent, per OutsideOnline.com.
"Both training volume and intensity are important to the maintenance of fitness as we age," Friel says. "But intensity is more important."
Intensity is just one of the factors in staying fit after 50. There are several other things a person must keep in mind, per Heil.
One of these is strength training.
"When you train with heavy loads for several weeks, you develop younger muscles," Friel says. "Lifting increases the body's production of muscle-building hormones such as growth hormone, testosterone and insuling growth factor."
The Center For Disease Control and Prevention explains why strength training is important:
"Scientific research has shown that exercise can slow the physiological aging clock. While aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging or swimming has many excellent health benefits -- it maintains the heart and lungs and increased cardiovascular fitness and endurance -- it does not make your muscles strong.
"Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density."
Friel also tells older fitness enthusiasts to consume more protein.
"Recent research...strongly suggests that we need more (protein) as we age," he says. Protein intake should be taken at regular, daily intervals. This is because the body can process a limited amount of protein per meal, per Heil.
Another crucial factor is sleep.
"Sleep is definitely the key to better performance with aging," Friel says. "If you're using an alarm clock to wake up, you're not getting enough."
People should also learn the value of passive recovery. This is known as periodization. Here, an activity period precedes a short, dormant period. Some resort to active recovery. For older people, the passive route is the way to go, per Heil.
Passive recovery means not doing anything active. Friel's book says one or two days of passive recovery is important. One can have a cold-water immersion or massage on those days, per OutsideOnline.com.
Friel emphasizes intensity. He also understands the risk of injuries during the aging process. The two keys for any older active person are "moderation" and consistency," per Heil.
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