Aged Care

Sports and the Aging Body

While you might not be as young as you used to be, you can still enjoy physical activities if you want to. Old age is never synonymous with lethargy or poor health. Just take a look at the number of people over 50 who have won an Olympic medal over the decades.

But even with such rare gems, it is completely natural for the body to slow down as the years pass by. Even the healthiest individuals can feel a difference in their flexibility, strength, and healing ability compared to when they were younger.

Here are some of the normal physical changes that come about with age:

  • Oxygen Usage
  • One of the primary reasons behind declining endurance or aerobic performance is that the body can no longer use oxygen as effectively as it used to. Athletes who continue to train hard and compete can significantly reduce the drop. However, this doesn’t change the fact that maximal heart rate goes down with age. This reduces both oxygen delivery and cardiac output leading to lower performance in endurance events.

  • Muscle Strength
  • When it comes to sports that require high levels of power or strength, some pieces of evidence suggest the existence of age-related limitations within skeletal muscles that move the joints and bones. Performance drops more steeply in competitive weightlifters over 40 as opposed to endurance athletes, such as cyclists, swimmers, and runners. This is because weightlifting and similar sports draw on type II or fast-twitch muscle fibers rather on type I.

  • Recovery Time
  • As you age, the ability to recover from harsh workouts diminishes. This can affect the volume and intensity of your training. In contact sports, such as rugby or American football, high-level play can be affected by cumulative effects of hard hits and recovery from sports injuries. People in non-contact activities also have their fair share of woes as they tend to experience more training-related injuries.

Self-Care Advice

It’s quite obvious that you are more prone to getting injured than those younger than you. Also, it’s inevitable that you will lose in the race between performance and age. The good news is that it’s possible to see more individuals in their 40s remain competitive in various sports in the future.


By choosing to train smarter instead of harder as this will minimize the effects of aging, maximize training, and reduce the chances of injuries.

Bear in mind that it will take longer for you to adapt to stimuli and to recover, thus your workouts will have to change with age. You’ll also need to put emphasis on active recovery strategies, be it an easy swim or run on your rest days. Improved sleeping habits and cross-training with yoga are a must as well.

If you would like to learn more, you should get in touch with a reputable physiotherapist who has experience in working with athletes. You might want to browse through our other articles on staying active and aging here on Health Inquire too. You’d be surprised at the things we have to share that you could learn with regard to your physical activities.

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