How old do you feel? I often find that the way people answer this question has a direct correlation to how active they are. The greater the activity level, the greater the difference between reality and fact.
If we look closely at sport, we can find many examples of athletes, supposedly past their prime, still performing at elite levels; Dara Torres and Martina Navratilova immediately come to mind.
Many people stop sport when they leave school/university. The 70 year old weightlifter doesn’t owe his success to being a worldclass athlete, but rather he is an individual who kept training when others quit.
We can’t deny that certain physiological changes do happen as we age: decline in lean body mass, muscle power, skin elasticity and heart rate to name a few. But studies show that the decline is much less than we tend to accept. Simply put, ‘if you don’t use it – you lose it’.
As we age the rate of regeneration slows so we may not be able to train with the same intensity and at the same frequency of a younger athlete. But by continuing to take part in activities like Hapkido training, we ensure we work on our muscular strength and mobility as well as maintaining all-round fitness. In this way, we will always be younger, in the physiological sense, to our real age.
And before we classify an ‘old’ athlete as being ‘over 40’… I’m told that Jean Borotran and Kitty Godfrey still played tennis into their 90’s.