This thought was inspired during a conversation with a good friend mine, Brendan. He made this ‘proud-parent’ comment (yes we are always trying to one-up each other!) that went something along the lines of: “well educated kids with a foundation of health will have an unfair advantage in the future”. This really resonated with me, and I couldn’t agree with him more. We say that knowledge is power. But we also have to have the capacity to apply that knowledge. And most importantly, to gain it.
Much has been written about this before, including in many of our blogs: we know that the type, amount and intensity of physical activity one performs affects capacity for memory, learning and creative application of such gained knowledge; with the effect of of health on cognitive function being very well documented. So could health be one of the currencies that will help us succeed in the future?
It’s not unreasonable to think that those not in good health, those held back by physical pain, by health conditions will certainly not get the best outcomes, right?!
So, what future adults are we forming? What inheritance will we leave our kids??
I feel this challenge deeply. My most important job is to raise my kids to grow into well adjusted future adults, that will be an asset to their society. Yet I feel the pressure of our current environment already, with screens, Youtube stars and iPad games leading to my kids being a lot more inactive than I would like them to be. And I truly fear that this will affect their capacity to flourish to their greatest potential as adults. So I’m writing this as much to myself as to you.
I strongly believe that those that will be intellectually and physically more agile and flexible in the future will hold a real advantage. While we are living longer, we are certainly not living healthier, and that decrease in health will be a burden in many different ways.
If I could put this blog in front of kids I would be very happy, but it’s more likely that it’ll get read by adults… So it’s up to you to model behaviours that will set a foundation for a healthy life ahead.
Will you join me in giving our kids the best inheritance possible??
Screening is a critical part of our solutions for our clients to set up the right start before beginning their exercise journey. And so my exciting journey from 0km to 1000km in one week would be no different! Establishing the right screening process to address my weaknesses and asymmetries is the first step I took.
My Bike Fit experience
I enlisted the skills of my great colleague and friend Shane Burgess from SmartHealth to conduct a bike fit assessment. I just purchased a beautiful new bike, and I’ll have to increase my kilometres on it quite significantly from month to month, I wanted to make sure that the steed and I fit each other like a glove!
You see, my left leg is 5 millimetres shorter than my right leg. Add to this all the little physical quirks you develop after decades of exercising and pushing your limits… including the many stacks on my mountain bike when I also push my age by feeling like I’m a kid again – lead to interesting challenges on a road bike. On a road bike your pelvis is relatively fixed by the mandatory narrow saddle, and your feet are firmly clipped onto the pedals. This set up, while great for speed and power transfer, creates interesting pressures when your movement is not smooth and symmetrical! After a couple of hours of adjusting cleats, inserting spacers between my left shoe and the pedal, and tinkering with about every movable part of my bike, I was ready to start accumulating kilometres! The feeling on the bike after this process was impressive. I truly felt extremely balanced and efficient!!
Movement Screening to set up gym training
The next step was to have my colleagues at iNform perform a Movement Screen on me to ensure that my training off the bike was also targeted to improve on my weaknesses, and ensure that I can maximise my return on investment from my time training in the gym.
I’ll write much more about the specifics of my training to improve my strength and functional capacity in future entries of this blog series. The aim will be to give me the best possible chance to enjoy the Ride as One, complete the ride, and be able to move afterwards!
What can you take away from this?
I once learned from a valued colleague of mine the following sage advice: “spend two thirds of the time allocated to a project planning it, and you will succeed”. To be honest, I don’t think y impatience has ever allowed me to follow this advice to the fullest, but I do know that before embarking on any significant challenge it is imperative to set things up right from the beginning, to avoid costly mistakes (injuries, pain, wasted training) down the track. So what ever your physical challenge, be it to run your first 5kms, a City to Bay, or a marathon; or to enter a new season of elite level training; make sure you get the right assessment and screening process first to target your training to your specific needs!
More about setting up the right team next week!
The Olympics are arguably the grandest sporting event to take place. 11,551 athletes from 207 different nations competed in 306 events in 28 sports. What we have seen in Rio 2016 is a age diverse group of athletes competing to be the world’s best. The really interesting part of all this is that it can show us that age can become just a number rather than a limiting factor. Ie: You are only as old as you think and act.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Oldest Olympian in Rio: Mary Hanna, 61yo equestrian (Australia)
Oldest Gold Medallist @ Rio: Kristin Armstrong 43yo (U.S. cyclist)
Oldest Gymnast in Rio: Oksana Chusovitina 41yo (Uzbekistan)
Oldest track and Field Athlete: Jo Pavey 42yo 10,000-meter running (Great Britain)
Now I am fully aware that not everyone wants to complete the copious hours of grueling training to become an Olympian. Some could not think of anything worse than even playing a sport, but what it shows you is that your life is not over once you hit that certain age that you deem “as being old.”
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you actually were?”
Physiologically it is understood that the body changes with each passing day, with the rate of regeneration decreasing as well as general degeneration of vital pieces of our bodies. Our V02max (which is numerical value that describes how much oxygen your body can use per kilogram of body weight) decreases as we age. One of the reasons for this is that for everyone (fit or unfit) our maximal heart rates decrease as we age. This reduces the output from the heart each beat and also the delivery of oxygen to the working muscles. This can lower general performance and endurance.
So, how are these older individual’s still competing against the world’s best and winning?
Training is the answer.
In the general population (on average) our V02max declines by approximately 10% per decade after we hit 30 years of age. Individuals who train in higher
intensities can reduce that drop to 5% per decade. That is 50% more oxygen moving around their body in comparison to someone who sits in an office all day.
The typical rate of decline in muscle mass in the general population is quite similar to aerobic changes. Research has estimated that from 40 years of age, muscle mass decreases 8% a decade until we hit around 70 years of age after which losses increase to about 15% a decade. However strength training can minimise that loss. The cross section on thighs of a younger athlete, an older athlete and an inactive (sedentary) individual highlights that muscle mass can be maintained if trained.
The one thing that is highly noticeable is the domino effect of decreased muscle mass and strength. The loss of strength and muscle tissue lead to reduced mobility, followed by a decreased basal metabolic rate, increased body fat percentage, decreased metabolic enzymes, decreased insulin sensitivity, and finally a decrease in bone mineral density.
Whilst a majority of us over 30 are not trying to gain selection in an Olympic team, training like athletes can have us feeling better, more mobile, lighter, and most importantly not “too old”
In eight months I will be riding 1000kms over 7 days, from Melbourne to Adelaide, as part of the Leukemia Foundation’s Ride-as-One event, representing the iNform team. Actually, it’s closer to 1100kms, but that didn’t have the same ring to it for a title! That’s an average of around 150km and more than 5-6hrs on the saddle per day!
While I obviously stay fit and active, I am conditioned to mountain biking and trail running, and haven’t ridden a road bike consistently in a VERY long time; I have never ridden the average distance that we will ride each day (150km); I have never exercised at that volume on back to back days, let alone 7 of them! So I can confidently say that I will be going from an average of 0kms of road riding, to 1000kms (+) in a week!
This blog series is our desire to share this journey with you. We have decided to participate in this worthy event as a business, and share the journey with you along the way, for a number of reasons:
- We believe businesses should give back to their community and contribute to the well-being of others, in ways that extend beyond their normal day to day activities,
- We want to use this opportunity to create a training diary, warts and all, to hopefully inspire you to do something similar.
- This will provide you with an achievable and realistic idea and training plan for you to achieve a large event.
- As my background is in training high level athletes, we will make sure that the training advice is also translatable across performance levels. The foundation of what I’ll be doing should be done whether you want to achieve your first 100km ride, or you are an elite athlete looking to improve performance.
I look forward to our journey together. I would like to invite you to connect with me along the way – Feel free to post comments and ask questions! I’ll be posting a weekly update, with training tips, program progressions, thoughts, and answers to your commonly asked questions.
Above all, I would love you to sponsor my ride, so we can join together in helping the great work that The Leukaemia Foundation does!
Let’s start with a riddle……….
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
Anyone who considers themselves a lord of the rings nerd might identify this riddle as one that the creature Gollem proposed to Bilbo Baggins in the book ‘The Hobbit’. Can you guess the answer?? ………………… Time
Time is constantly considered to be in short supply. Working in my field, one of the greatest challenges I encounter is assisting people to overcome the barrier of ‘not enough time’. It is an interesting conundrum that with the greater advances we have seen in technology (presumably to make our lives easier) the busier we have all become. The dawning of the industrial revolution saw a dramatic change in the activity levels of the working class. We have gone from being a species that was previously paid to be active given the physical nature of our jobs. In current times the expectation for the majority of western society seems to be that we now have to pay to be active. Taking out memberships to gyms and clubs and buying fancy pieces of machinery advertised on the home shopping channels is common. There is the common understanding that we need to dedicate 30 minutes of our day to exercising as we often spend the remainder of it quite sedentary. This is something that many of us find very challenging!
How do we possibly find time for ourselves, to do what is required to look after our health and wellbeing, when we have so much else happening in our lives? Competing factors for our time include: looking after family, work, sleep, cooking, cleaning, drinking coffee, reading, painting, playing words with friends, watching the latest episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’, and the list goes on… I have a challenge for everyone. Make a list of all the things in your life that compete for your time, even the small things, and prioritise them in order of importance. What do you fill your week up with? Now, where do you sit in this list of priorities? Did you even list yourself at all?
Time is a fixed commodity. We can get no more or no less of it, and at least on this planet, time moves by at a set rate. So if we cannot acquire more time through bargaining with higher powers or other means that incorporate quantum physics, then our other option is to look at how we prioritise the time we do have. I am not going to get out my cheery white toothed smile and preach that ‘you’ must be at the top of your priority list and that nothing else can possibly rate above looking after yourself, but I am going to ask, ‘are you currently happy with where you place yourself on that list?’ I would love to see my clients prioritise their exercise at the top of their list and come to see me three times a week, however, I realistically understand that in the real world this is not always possible. For many of us there will often be priorities that we will rate above ourselves, such as caring for someone else, and it is not my job to change that. However, I want you to consider if you are happy with rating ‘checking facebook likes’ above ‘looking after your health’ and going for a short walk. If so, more power to you! but don’t be complaining that you have no time for yourself, to go for a walk, to prepare food, or take 10 deep breaths of fresh air.
Time is precious, it is limited, and as humans we have complex lives. My task for those who are struggling to find time to fit something that is important to them in, is to write this list and figure out exactly where your current priorities lie and where your time is spent. Ask yourself ‘Am I happy with this?’ and ‘Is there room for change in my time prioritisation?’ Where, given the opportunity would you want yourself to sit on your priority list? We are here to help you find ways to make this happen but often the realisation that change needs to and can happen has to come first.