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Fitness as a Fountain of Youth

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“The body will become better at whatever you do, or don’t do. You don’t move? The body will make you better at NOT moving. If you move, your body will allow more movement.”     – Ido Portal

What if I said you could add as much as 25 years to your life?

You’d be curious, right? I mean, clearly this is click bait, but…what if it’s not?

We’ve all heard about how “It’s all downhill after 30!” Most of us expect to experience a decline in our abilities as we age. But what if we could considerably slow that process down? What if we could even improve our strength and ability as we got older?

While it’s true that age isn’t “just” a number, science has begun to prove that your biological age – your fitness age – is a better and more reliable predictor of longevity and quality of life than chronological age. 

In a recent studyscientists collected data on more than 4,200 people, ages 50+, who had qualified for the Senior Olympics. While the athletes’ average chronological age was 68, their average fitness age was 43, a remarkable 25 years less. That’s a significant difference! And many of these athletes did not start training for their sport until later in life – which goes to show you that it’s never too late to try and achieve a fit and healthy lifestyle.

I can hear what you’re thinking. “But you’re talking about the Olympics. I mean, they’re the best of the best. Those guys are the top 1%, right? This can’t possibly apply to someone like me.”

Wrong! In the words of CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman: “Your needs and the Olympic athlete’s differ by degree, not kind. Increased power, strength, cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, flexibility, stamina, coordination, agility, balance, and coordination are each important to the world’s best athletes and to our grandparents. The amazing truth is that the very same methods that elicit optimal response in the Olympic or professional athlete will optimize the same response in the elderly.”

In other words, squatting, deadlifting, and other multi-joint movements we use in CrossFit replicate the real-world activities we need to be proficient at, such as getting up out of a chair, or picking something up off of the floor. These daily activities can become challenging to older adults if they don’t stay active, and greatly impact their ability to remain independent as they grow older.

So what does this have to do with someone who is young and seems healthy?

Did you know that a person who is chronologically young can actually be biologically older? In another recent study of nearly 1,000 young adults, whose health had been tracked from birth to age 38, findings showed that these 38-year-olds’ biological clocks read anywhere from 20 years to a surprising 60 years old. In other words, some of these seemingly healthy adults had aged much faster than their same chronologically-aged peers. So simply being young does not give you a pass.

Bottom line – if you don’t use it, you lose it, no matter how old you are. The human body was designed to move, and in our modernized, automated society, we move a lot less than our ancestors did. The good news is that there are lots of ways to achieve this. Squat, hinge, push, pull, twist, carry and run. Whether you get your fix by coming to class, playing a sport, or simply playing outside they way you did when you were a kid, making movement a regular part of your day will pay dividends to you as you grow older.

We age because we stop moving. We don’t stop moving because we age.

75 year old Dick Withtow of CrossFit Port Royal Sound

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