Remember the "glory days" in high school or college when playing on a sports team made being physically fit easier? It could have been due to the influence of the crowd you ran with, or simply the fact that you were young. Interestingly, research is showing that a person's degree of weakness, not their age, has everything to do with risk of injury.
As we grow older, our bodies decrease production of a protein called elastin, which keeps ligaments and tendons flexible. The longer a person goes without exercising or stretching can make appendages stiffen, shortening their range of movement and consequently, adding dependence on our muscles to do all of the work.
What does this mean for those over forty with poor strength and/or lack of bone density? Henry Lodge, M.D., and coauthor of Younger Next Year, mandates at least a 10-minute warm up, followed by light strength training that is non-impactful.
"It's essential that your muscles are warm, supple and awake. Rather than stretching or engaging in a lighter version of the intended sport, the optimal warm-up for our demographic should be a core strengthening component."
This can include climbing stairs, planks, lunges or crunches- any activity that makes use of your body's own pressure.
Additionally, implementing an effective cool down is also key to avoiding injury. Working out can cause a build-up of lactic acid and muscle inflammation, leaving our muscles with a longer recovery time than in our younger years. Following up with plenty of water and slow stretching can make this refractory period injury-free.
Ultimately, age doesn't have to define our freedom to a strong and active lifestyle. Choosing to work slightly harder to be physically fit can once again bring back a little glory to our days.