Body Building over 50? Absolutely, you can do it, and it feels good. Just warm up good, and get ready for a better brain, a better heart, and endorphins.
I am 61, and I am remembering back (a lot these days) to a conversation I had with Bill Rittenhouse in the backyard of his house when we were 13, about half a century ago, where we both vowed that when we grew up we would continue to lift weights and be strong.
At that age, we were asserting to ourselves and each other that we were going to be strong and effective men.
And here I am at 61, preparing to sustain that vow and sustain the strength that I have now until my departure.
(Now I have a 10 year old son, so part of this is simply self-preservation. He can't wait for the day he can tickle me like I tickle him). His mother likes that I lift too.
Believe it or not folks, I am actually lifting heavier weights than I did as a kid in some exercises.
The nice thing about body building at my age though, I am not worried anymore about how I look. No need for the muscle beach physiology.
However, a side effect of my lifting is being able to chase my children around. My daughter loves to run ahead of me, and have me chase her.
I can also get up on the roof to clean the gutters and hang the Christmas decorations.
Body building now involves some cardio too, and I utilize very sophisticated tools like a skip rope and the bleachers at my YMCA to do Harvard steps, and I use the exercise ball at home with some great videos from Angie and Scott Tousignant called More Love, Less Fat which guide me through their version of HIIT or high intensity interval training, which is basically 10 minutes of 30 second intervals of calisthenics I did as a kid in Junior High School.
(Talk about small worlds. Just met a guy at the YMCA here who went to the same Junior High School I did, Franklin Junior High School in Mankato, Minnesota but several years ahead of me. Yes, another one of those body builders over 50).
Now when you click on that link, remember that Angie and Scott did not look like that when they started their regimen.
But note the tools they use, an exercise ball and some dumbells. I like the simplicity of it.
There are some serious side effects to body building besides chasing children.
Not the least of those side effects is the impact that physical exercise has on the health and well being of your brain, which means you can enhance two very important capacities of your brain called neurogenesis and neuroplasticity for life long learning and brain effectiveness.
When my friends began to tease me 30 years ago about the increasing bald spot on the back of my head, I did not mind, but when I began to notice that I could not always pull up the word I wanted, I began to worry.
And about that same time, I came across in interesting book called The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge,MD, which was and is a very exciting book describing new discoveries about the human brain which is of great interest to us Boomers.
Turns out, and no one knew this until about 10 years ago, our brains grow new brain cells every day, if I do not put poisons like ethyl alcohol or stress hormones in my brain.
This capacity of my brain, called neurogenesis, can be enhanced by taking care of what the commentators are calling the "pillars of brain fitness", which are, get this, physical exercise, the most important, nutrition, including omega 3 fatty acid, stress management, sleep, and novel learning experiences, which might include a computerized brain fitness program or two.
Another capacity of my brain, called neuroplasticity, also enhanced by attending the pillars mentioned above, describes my brain very rapid, sometimes within minutes, ability to link neurons up in new connections.
The opposite of forming new neuronal connections is called Alzheimers Disease.
Not sure about you, but I am looking very closely into the kind of learning that is required to build up a cognitive reserve of connections which can bypass trouble spots of plaque in my brain.
Want an over view of what I am talking about? Brainfit for Life is a great book, available as an e-book or a hard copy, written by two neuroscientists at University of Michigan, which will give you an excellent background in all this brain fitness stuff.
I know we have not talked about any lifting you can do to enhance your over 50 physique, but the basics that you did as a youngster will still work.
I like to make my repetitions very smooth, and I find closing my eyes and focusing on the muscle I am working to be very helpful.
Turns out that attention is a key piece of the novel learning experience which Evans and Burghardt talk about in Brainfit for Life and there is some software available which can impact the older brain's ability to pay attention to things like driving, and even increase IQ.
Never too late.
The interesting thing about the programs I have used and that I recommend is that there are clinical trial evaluating them.
The IMPACT study and the researchers involved seemed quite amazed at the the impact of the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.