"For while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you."
October 14, 2006 12:07 AM   Subscribe

How do I feel like I'm still 25 when I turn 50?

I'm 23, and I know several people who have led generally active lifestyles (a 31-year-old ex-Marine, a Yoga teacher in her early 40's and a lawyer-and-ultmate frisbee enthusiast in his mid-40's) but are all basically finding it harder and harder to "keep up with the kids" because their bodies are, well, aging, and they're experiencing knee problems, prolonged muscle soreness, etc.

How much are these sorts of things an inevitable part of the aging process and how much can I prevent them? What can I do now, at age 23, so that I feel this good when I'm 40, 50, or 60?
posted by joshuaconner to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Look into Art DeVany's Evolutionary Fitness, and you might find what you're looking for. Look at that picture, he's 69 years old!
posted by evariste at 12:40 AM on October 14, 2006

Excellent question (and you're gonna get a lot of interesting responses). I'm pushing 40. Athletic but not a meathead jock. Looking back...

- Don't smoke. If you smoke now, stop. Lung capacity goes down, and you look older much faster. Stop smoking weed, too. It makes you fat and boring.

- If you fuck something up (knee, shoulder, etc.) don't tough it out. Go to a real doctor and get it fixed. Do the physical therapy. Injuries in your 20s come back to haunt you in future decades as arthritis, tendonitis, and joints that sound like popping bubble wrap -- and feel like someone's twisting a steak knife in your rotator cuff.

- Take up a "lifetime" sport now. I played hockey and baseball thru my early 30s, and now I thank Jeebus that I have golf and tennis to fall back on. Don't just go the range and screw around -- take some lessons, and get the basics down now. When you hit 38, you'll be mighty glad you did. (I can't stress this enough.)

And stop worrying! The whole age thing creeps up on you slowly. It manifests itself in not altogether depressing ways -- basically, you lose a step, then two or three, and eventually you're content with just being out there. Also, you find that you're sore for hours, then days, after strenuous activity. But at least you can still do it.
posted by turducken at 12:41 AM on October 14, 2006

Incorporate a routine of regular exercise and good nutrition into your daily life such that by the time you're 50 they've long since become ingrained habits. While it's impossible to predict accidents, make an effort to avoid knee or back injuries as well as situations that might cause hearing loss. In admittedly anecdotal accounts, older acquaintances tell me that these three types of injury during their youth (knee, back, hearing) are the ones that have come back to interfere most with their enjoyment of life.
posted by RichardP at 12:52 AM on October 14, 2006

There was an article in The National Geographic sometime during the past year that featured interviews with centenarians from all over the world. I'm not sure that you can feel 25 when you're 50 (this will depend at least in part on your state of mind), but the centenarians all shared some similar traits both physical and psychological that kept them alive for such a long time. Since I can't seem to find the article at the moment, I'll contribute what I can recall from memory.

It starts with good genes, but does not end there. All had balanced healthy diets, drank plenty of clean water and exercised regularly. Most had occupations where moderate physical labor was involved, much of which occurred outdoors. (Surprisingly, or not, not many lived sedentary lives behind desks.) They also tended keep good care of their joints (ie, emphasis on the MODERATION of exercise). On the other side of the coin, almost all were able to keep loving, tightly bonded relationships (even when they outlived life partners). Having a sense of belonging and self worth was clearly necessary. All had a positive outlook on life despite moments of hardship. In the end, luck also played a huge role... even in the villages where people had similar lifestyles and genetic makeup, some died from random disease, while others were able to avoid life threatening illness.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 1:05 AM on October 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

From a perspective of being 60 you never will feel any better after you pass 30. I have knee (injured when I was 30), back (injured when I was 35) and hearing (lots of concerts in my 20's) problems. You live around them.
As a necessity I have a regular routine at the gym - 5 or 6 days 1 hour minimum. which includes weights and more importantly, yoga. Sometimes I hurt something (shoulder, knee) and it bothers me for months at a time. Leave it alone, do what the Physical Therapist tells you to do and do something else. Have alternative activities.
What makes the exercise work over an extended period - I've been at it for about 10 years - is making it a social event. Have other people who are like minded meet regularly. The support group aspect is almost as important as the exercise itself.
You really don't notice the age if you keep your body practiced at doing a variety of things. This is where the yoga becomes important. The exercise keeps muscles toned the yoga keeps them supple.
I should also mention that you will need to keep learning new things, the brain and body both need the continual stimulation of change.
And the older I get the happier I feel. I like that.
posted by ptm at 1:09 AM on October 14, 2006

The National Geographic feature |n$eCur3 referes to is The Secrets of Longevity. Especially the pictures are stunning.

Basically, the secrets are nothing new: don't smoke, eat healthy, exercise and smile (stay away from daily stress and have a happy family life). Most people who think they eat healthy, do not really eat that healthy. You will have to eat LOTS of vegetables (and, to a lesser extent, other phytochemical rich foods, such as fruits and nuts), but if you do, that really helps. Focus on the green vegetables, because they are full of bone building/preserving vitamins and minerals. Make sure to get a source of vitamin D as well: if you live in a sunny country and get outside without sunscreen every day, the sun may be enough. If not, a supplement is the best way to go.

Don't eat junk food and don't drink soda. Maintain a healthy weight.
posted by davar at 2:22 AM on October 14, 2006

Wear good shoes and practice good form when you are exercising. So many joint problems are caused by continuous pounding over the years, and wearing good quality shoes can minimize the impact of this punishment. Most people don't start to worry about their footwear until they are already having problems. If you lift weights, learn how to do it right, especially if you are performing complex movements like squats, deadlifts, etc.
posted by btkuhn at 3:04 AM on October 14, 2006

I agree with everything Turducken and btkuhn said. In addition: I recommend glucosamine/chondroiten/msm and omega-3 fatty acid supplements if you are engaging in high impact sports. Stay away from ibuprofen and naproxen, let your body recover naturally. Don't give yourself repetitive strain injuries by exercising when injured, even tough injuries. Pain is your friend, listen to it.

Develop good sleep habits now, and allocate extra sleeping time when you are exercising heavily. If you don't already, begin a resistance training program that emphasizes core strength and muscles that reinforce your joints, especially knees and shoulders.

Cross-train instead of focusing too much on any particular sport, and pay close attention when your body signals that you are getting too old for something.
posted by Manjusri at 3:29 AM on October 14, 2006

Although this article Forbes.com - 15 Ways To Live Longer does not directly teach you how to feel like 25 when you are 50, you should really carry out the instructions given there. At least from my point of view the ability to live longer is directly related to a healthy lifestyle. Hence these tips can help you in your approach to still feel good at 50.

Also I strongly advise you to decide right now to stay healthy and to begin to exercise as well as to continue to associate yourself with fit people who maintain an active lifestyle and therefore can help you by applying peer pressure to continue exercising. Generally speaking: Make physical exercise a lifelong habit. Choose a sport and stick with it. Notwithstanding a combination of weight lifting, running and swimming would propably be the ideal choice, when it comes to training the whole body, it does not really matter what sport you choose, as long as it really requires you to move herself. That means that golf for example will not contribute to the achievement of your goal. If you decide to do some form of fitness training, the most valuable advise I can give you is not to overdo it. Don't do hundres of push-ups ,just because in some fitness book you have read calisthinetics are praised as the only true church (metaphorically speaking). Don't lift enormous amounts of weights until your joints are damaged irreparably, don't run until your foots are bubbly or you have problems with your knee, etc. . To put a long story short: Do cross-training!

The appliance of this generally suggestions alone should ensure that one stays in a decent condition. But if one really wants to keep up with the keds in any sports, the most important thing to my mind is doing plyometrics. I have seen many old guys knocking out us youngsters, when it comes to endurance and strength, or even flexibility. Though concerning explosiveness most of them are absolutely inferior to their younger fellows. I think that doing playometrics could really help them out.

Besides, if you want to keep your knees in good condition, you should give them a full range of motion each day by doing several SLOW, almost-all-the-way down squats. (a tip i learned from an acquaintance)

And last but not least and MOST IMPORTANT: EXPOSE YOURSELF TO COLD WATER EVERYDAY. It is also good against muscle soreness. Take a look at these websites:
The Magic of an Ice Bath
The Magic Cold Bath

Hopefully I could help you.

P.S.: I apologize for my bad English.
posted by pu9iad at 5:34 AM on October 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am not net savvy enough to post the .pdf file, but Rick Reilly from Sports Illustrated wrote an article about Jack LaLane that I read every so often for motivation. The man is still exercising everyday and in great shape. (I imagine to wear that jumpsuit, you have to be in great shape and a little bit odd.) He eats healthy (the same meal -- salmon -- everyday) and works out daily.

But, as Mr. Den Beste points out, it ain't no fun to have no fun. Enjoy yourself now, work out and eat as healthy as you can tolerate but do not forget to have a beer or two on occasson and enjoy. No matter what you do, you are going to age. The worst thing would be to look back on your life when you are old and regret not enjoying yourself so you could be in uber shape and healthy.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:43 AM on October 14, 2006

Previous ask mefi qs related: Keeping skin healthy as you age; how to look 22 at 42 - question focused on looks, but answers addressed health as well.
posted by Amizu at 6:22 AM on October 14, 2006

Stop eating meat & processed/junk food.
Keep a positive atitude about life.
posted by growabrain at 6:37 AM on October 14, 2006

Yoga, yoga, yoga. Or, more generally, anything that promotes flexibility -and- strength, like pilates. My yoga instructor is 83 and she's more flexible than I am! More importantly, she doesn't exhibit that general air of fragility and weakness that afflict most of us when we get older.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:17 AM on October 14, 2006

Lots of good comments in this thread. I would add that some of it is also reconditioning how we consider aging. There's a lot of myths and misconceptions about elderly people and how their bodies and minds function. So educate yourself on what aging really involves.

An easy and fun introduction to this is Surfing for Life, which is on Netflix. Look at the discussion guide in particular. But the documentary itself is really fun. This is beyond 50 (which really isn't old), but I think it covers what you're looking for.

Aging well is physical and nutritional, social, and mental aspects all developed and maintained over time.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:17 AM on October 14, 2006

Plyometrics are an effective way to add explosiveness to your sports performance, but it is also a very easy way to give yourself overuse injuries. I would really only recommend them for an extremely conditioned athlete who is looking for that extra edge.
posted by Manjusri at 7:31 AM on October 14, 2006

Consider a sport for life like cycling. It's embarassing to have a guy who's well into his sixties smoke you on a hill. Then you realize that he's probably had 20 - 30 years of solid aerobic conditioning riding 3000 - 5000 miles a year.

I cycle but in this past year I've taken a couple of stroke improvement classes to improve my swimming in case I need a replacement sport if I injure myself cycling.
posted by TorontoSandy at 8:25 AM on October 14, 2006

Stress can eat you up. No matter how bad things really are, find some way to address it without a background level of fear and anxiety. Cultivated obliviousness can be a good thing.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:42 AM on October 14, 2006

Get lots of sleep.
posted by meehawl at 9:55 AM on October 14, 2006

Yes, good health, exercise, nutrition are important. But I believe that attitude is everything. Allow me to share this quote from Charles Swindoll:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company.....a church.....or home. The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past....we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have and that is our attitude....I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you....we are in charge of our attitudes."

posted by seawallrunner at 12:15 PM on October 14, 2006

How do I feel like I'm still 25 when I turn 50?

You don't, but you've gotten some very good advice about how to take care of yourself and feel good at any age. "As good as 25" will be gone by the time you're 35, tops. ;-)
posted by enrevanche at 1:04 PM on October 14, 2006

Relax. Enjoy. Friends. Exercise. Drink moderately.

Do not breed.
posted by srboisvert at 4:23 PM on October 14, 2006

I gotta say this: I'm 25 and I think the main problem is that over the decades you completely forget what it was like to be 25 and build up this vision of 25-year-olds being Superman.

This may be a bit of an unrelated rant, but I work at a store, and this old couple is buying a mailbox, and they make it a point to put it up on the belt with the UPC down, as if I was gonna pick up their mailbox with one hand and swing it over the reader.

Now, normally I go along with however people want me to do stuff, but that was too much. I had to flip it over and use the hand scanner.

The thought process of those old folks baffles me.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:38 PM on October 14, 2006

It was a mailbox with a post included, about as big as me. Should have included that.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:38 PM on October 14, 2006

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