If you are a competition lover like I am, this has been an amazing summer to observe the absolute best in the master’s section of the Crossfit Games and I have to say, though, my favorite is watching the performances of the “older” athletes. There were quite a few athletes that were past the ages that we may normally associate with being in one’s “physical prime.” Many athletes in their mid-30’s on say that they are in the best shape of their lives right now. Who isn’t inspired by 41-year-old gymnasts and runners or a 65-year old who can climb a rope better than most grade-schoolers?
SO WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THIS NEW LONGEVITY WE ARE SEEING AMONG ATHLETES?
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
#1. THE HUMAN BODY IS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING
We do not yet know how far we can push ourselves. One of the most famous instances is the case of the 4-minute-mile. Nobody thought it could happen – however, once that “barrier” was broken, it happens (for very fit people, anyway) on a regular basis. The same thing is happening now with older adults. With improved training and techniques, as well as advances in equipment, some are even surpassing their college performances.
#2. ATHLETES GET SMARTER AND WISER WITH AGE PLUS, MANY HAVE FULL-TIME JOBS
This means that the volume of training is often reduced when compared to younger competitors. Therefore, older athletes tend to train smarter – not harder, and have (and give themselves) greater recovery time. An unfortunate truth for many is that recovery from injuries can take longer in an older adult, therefore, they are more careful with training techniques.
#3. THE SOCIAL SUPPORT FOR COMPETITIVE MASTER’S ATHLETES IS CONTINUALLY GROWING
More people are continuing to compete in sports for longer. It is more acceptable right now for people of any age to take up a sport that they have previously discontinued or start a new sport. The Baby Boomers are one of the largest groups of those beginning new sports population, once they have retired from a full-time job or when the children have moved out of the house – they have the disposable income as well as more time to spend on this type of endeavor.
“IN FAIRLY SHORT TIME, I NOTICED…GAINS”
AND WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
If you are not yet a Master’s-Aged competitor, you can still expect plenty of support for your sports plans, throughout your lifetime. There are growing opportunities to compete, from local to a worldwide level, and coaching is evolving with the changing demographics.
If you ARE a person wanting to take up a new sport or activity, the opportunities are endless. And the good news is, you do not need to have necessarily been an athlete in your previous life to become one now. I have had the opportunity to work with people who are seasoned athletes as well as neophytes, who can compete at the same levels.
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Sabrina is a Ph.D., National Board Certified-HWC and a physiologist with a background in advertising, writing, and editing as well as nutrition and kinesiology.