Tips for aging athletes

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , StarTribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2012 - 8:37 PM

<p>Ways for aging athletes to keep the spring in their step:</p>
<p><b>Keep things in balance. </b>Balance is a learned skill, &#34;although we tend to forget that,&#34; said Mia Bremer, fitness manager at Friendship Village of Bloomington. &#34;As toddlers, we had to learn how to balance, and as we get older, we need to continue to train ourselves.&#34;</p>
<p>Improper balance can lead to pain in knees, hips and backs. She recommends strengthening the body's core muscles -- basically, the stomach and lower-back muscles -- as well as doing balancing exercises, which can start with something as simple as standing on one foot.</p>
<p><b>Focus on form. </b>Runners often wax poetic about &#34;zoning out&#34; as they pad along their familiar routes, but don't let inattention destroy your bliss. &#34;Pay attention to the mechanics as you execute movement,&#34; said Sarah Hankel, a personal trainer at the Lifetime Fitness club in St. Louis Park. If you've developed bad habits, fixing them requires focus. &#34;It takes 3,000 reps for a muscle to acclimate to a new movement pattern,&#34; she said.</p>
<p><b>Remember the basics. </b>The importance of keeping hydrated increases with age. &#34;Ligaments and tendons need the fluid,&#34; said Mark Richards, vice president of program development for the Welcyon Fitness After 50 clubs. The experts also urge paying heightened attention to nutrition and sleep patterns.</p>
<p><b>Follow the rules. </b>We've all heard the guidelines about starting gradually so our muscles can warm up and then allowing for a cool-down period at the end of an exercise session. Aging bodies need those allowances more than ever. Time is often the villain in this scenario, Hankel said. &#34;If we only have 45 minutes [to work out], there's an urge to go fast right away to make the most of the time. Be patient.&#34;</p>
<p><b>Stretch it out. </b>Tight muscles and tendons can pull the body out of alignment. &#34;As we get older, the harder it is on the body if we don't stretch,&#34; Bremer said.</p>

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