Aging and Exercise

In a recent paper sport champions and athletes were asked what they thought it took to become a champion.  The group had a large sub-set of Olympians (medal winners and participants), world Champions, State and Regional Champions as well as a sub-set of “chronic” athletes that had, at the time of the survey, not earned a Championship.  The group had spent a significant portion of the lives competing and training.    This of course makes sense because achieving a sport level of performance to reach a major championship takes years of preparation.1

The group seemed in general especially bright mentally as noted by their responses to the survey.  This wasn’t too surprising because the mean of the group is 53.8 years with a range of 26 to 78 years of age.1Nevertheless; there was an air of vitality among these athletes.

The survey was not done face-to-face with the athletes.  However, a large percentage of the athletes were seen face-to-face as part of typical social interactions.  In addition, after the survey a number of the athletes felt compelled to discuss the work by phone.  At times one or more of them were present at different gatherings.  Among those surveyed there remained a competitive presence as well as a high degree of verbal and body language mild posturing that could be considered friendly yet slightly aggressive regardless of age. The overall impression a bystander might of noted is that these people appeared extremely healthy and engaged. Certainly, the group is physically fit regardless of age.

An important observation is the general health of the group.  At a mean age of nearly 54 they are generally not overweight.  A few are overweight.  An archer is obese (but currently on a strict diet to drop the weight), there’s an overweight ex-football lineman (thought not obese) and in that category there is a PGA golf pro, and one ex-major league pitcher who are heavier than during their playing days.  In general, the group was not overweight. This may be attributed to; overall the group continues to exercise to a large degree.

Coaching Tip

Exercise is a relatively easy why to remain in good health both mentally and physically. 2,3As we age we can hope to die young at a very old age. In that vein exercise can be an adjunct to prolonged health and mental compacity.4Aside from clearly obvious physical attributes associated with aging and exercise, exercise decreases the degradation of our brains.5

Being physically active isn’t the sole method to engage our brains as we age. One study showed that individuals who played chess were cognitively engaged and had better health than a control group.6The same study, which compared the chess players to master level track and field athletes, revealed the athletes had more injuries than the chess players.6For those injuries the athletes gained a lower prevalence of chronic disease.6However, the chess players and athletes had a lower incidence of chronic disease compared to a control group.6

As we age, exercise can be modified to account for slower recovery times.7, 8Even with modification exercise among the senior population can improve quality of life and independent living.9As a measure of successful aging, exercising among the older population may be a model to support concepts of best health over longer durations as exercise works to protect the body including the brain.10, 11

Through active engagement in sport and exercise we can prolong better physical health and mental health. This becomes clear to an observer in the presence of chronic athletes.11By adding a regime of exercise to activities of daily living we can improve our quality of life.9

References:

  1. Lain,D C; What it takes to be a Champion.In review, NFAA Publication, Archery, Nov. 2018
  2. Trapp, S:Master athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001 Dec;11 Suppl:S196-207.
  3. Zhao E,Tranovich MJDeAngelo RKontos APWright VJ: Phys Sportsmed. Chronic exercise preserves brain function in master athletes when compared to sedentary counterparts. 2016;44(1):8-13. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2016.1103641. Epub 2015 Oct 29.
  4. Geard D,Reaburn PRJ, Rebar AL, Dionigi RA.: Masters Athletes: Exemplars of Successful Aging. J Aging Phys Act. 2017 Jul;25(3):490-500. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0050. Epub 2017 Jun 28.
  5. Tseng BY1,Uh J, Rossetti HC, Cullum CM, Diaz-Arrastia RF, Levine BD, Lu H, Zhang R.: Masters athletes exhibit larger regional brain volume and better cognitive performance than sedentary older adults. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2013 Nov;38(5):1169-76. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24085. Epub 2013 Mar 21.
  6. Patelia S, Stone RC,El-Bakri R, Adli M,Baker J.: Masters or pawns? Examining injury and chronic disease in male Master Athletes and chess players compared to population norms from the Canadian Community Health Survery. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2018 Nov 30;15:15. doi: 10.1186/s11556-018-0204-z. eCollection 2018.
  7. Foster C, Wright G, Battista RA, Porcari JP. : Training in the aging athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep.2007 Jun;6(3):200-6.
  8. Soto-Quijano DA.: The Competitive Senior Athlete. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am.2017 Nov;28(4):767-776. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2017.06.009.
  9. Spirduso WW1,Cronin DL.: Exercise dose-response effects on quality of life and independent living in older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S598-608; discussion S609-10.
  10. Geard D, Rebar AL, Reaburn P, Dionigi RA.: Testing a Model of Succesfult Again in a Cohart of Masters Swimmers. J Aging Phys Act.2018 Apr 1;26(2):183-193. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0357. Epub 2018 Mar 24.
  11. Tseng BY,Gundapuneedi T,Khan MA, Diaz-Arrastia R, Levine BD, Lu H, Huang H, Zhang R.: White matter integrity in physically fit older adults. Neuroimage. 2013 Nov 15;82:510-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.011. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Running in the Dark

Often you’ll read at this website that I post articles about fitness.  Many of those posts include stories about running.  While cardiopulmonary fitness isn’t essential to pick up a bow and shoot it, it does improve one’s health and ability to maintain an athletic posture during long archery tournaments.

During hunting season I wear orange every time I run trails

Among the exercises I do as part of my training regime, running is a major element.  One manufacturer of running shoes once had an advertisement that read, “Athletes Run.”  Whether or not archery is part of my life, I believe running will always be a part of it.

One of the running pleasures I find most appealing is trail running in the dark.  In the winter months running in the dark is easy – it’s dark when I get up to run. In the warmer months this isn’t the case.

A head lamp is a must for running in the dark. River, my lab, has a little read clip-on light on her collar.

For some, the thought of running through the woods in the dark might bring to mind some scene from a horror movie. Not the case for me.  I do run with a light – getting smacked by a tree or limb isn’t on my bucket list.

Some mornings we finish running just after sunrise

Running in the dark is peaceful in my mind.  The woods are quiet and calm.  Occasionally, I run in the direction of some critter and that can be startling, but never horrifying.  I do run with my dog, River, who’s a big girl who provides a sense of ease when I cross paths with an unexpected animal.

Find this at night and you’ll wake right up

There’s a 1.3-mile loop behind my house that cuts a perfect trail to travel whether running or hiking. Sometimes I’ll run it in the morning and hike it in the afternoon.  I try to cover a few laps each time, more laps when running.

I understand not everyone that reads this site runs beyond being chased.  If you do run and have access to trails try running in the dark it is an entirely new experience compared to running during the day light. Oh, carry a light, bring your dog, and watch how you plant your feet. Also, let someone know where you’ll be running and when to expect you home. Plus, carry your cell phone just in case.  Before you run a trail in the dark run it several times during the lighted part of the day to learn the trail.  If you happen to get off the trail it isn’t difficult to get turned around.  If you happen to get lost, wait where you are until the sun comes up to regain your bearings.  Clear lens running eye glasses are ideal for not getting an eye poked out by a low hanging pointy limb. Now that I think about, maybe you shouldn’t run in the dark – you’d probably get hurt.

Buy My Book – “Simple Ways to Add To Your Life”

Ever read any of those self-help books currently on the market.  Most of them are over 70,000 words.  That is a lot of reading.

Decades ago I became interested in longevity. That is, why do some people live longer than others. Certainly, genetics and in today’s world some luck, play a part in how long we live.

But, what I reasoned is that there are 5 simple things we can do that can help each of us get the most years out of what we were born with.  And, yes this is a self-help book.

It’s a self-help book of the old style self-help books published during the beginning of the genre. It means this book is only around 10,000 words. If 10,000 words seems like to many flip to the summary at the conclusion.

I’ve also, just dropped the price to the lowest available on Amazon, $2.99.

Well, that was fun!

It was a pretty exciting day. It was cold and it started with stretching an indoor activity. It wasn’t long before River, my lab, and I hit the trails to run. By then, it had warmed to a toasty 28°F.

There are some big mushrooms in these woods. (My shoe is a size 10 for reference)

For sure, I’ve run when it has been colder. When I lived in Cleveland during the winter temperature around 0°F wasn’t uncommon. Still, I got up and ran.

Lake Erie in the winter

Running here, back home in Georgia, temperatures are as rough in the winter. Heading out on single track or animal trails through the woods is plain fun.

But, archery outside in 28°F isn’t a lot of fun. You just don’t work up enough internal combustion to stay warm. Wearing everything you own to stay warm while practicing is too cumbersome for me. The other night, after league shooting, a fellow and I were heading to our vehicles. It was around 8:20 PM and already getting cold. He bragged about the temperature not being cold to he – being from Boston and all.

For seven years I had an office in Boston, I lived in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore. I worked for extended periods of the winters in Sweden. In all of those places, I ran in the morning before work. I understand cold. Spend a winter or two in Uppsala, Sweden and Boston winters seems cute.

Uppsala, Sweden

After running it was off to Ace Hardware is Social Circle, Georgia to use their indoor range. Yep, Ace has an archery pro shop and very nice indoor range. They are also the major sponsor for an archery club, where I am a member, in this area.

Mornings at the hardware store archery range often mean the early risers can have their choice of lane to use. I try to get to the shop as soon as possible. I’m never entirely alone, other shooters come in, fling some arrows, and leave. As a rule, I do have a solid place to practice away from the cold.

Perfect for winter practice

On this morning I used a new target after the first 50 or so arrows. I moved it higher on their archery butt to take some time shooting the top target with a bit more elevation. On my second end on this new target I screwed up.

My shoulders were all wrong, my anchor felt off, my peep had rotated, so I needed to let down and start over. As I was becoming aware to let down I blinked. It seemed that something hit me in the eye. Naturally, with my eyes closed and my braining thinking, “Ouch” the arrow launched away.

All I could do was wait to here the arrow crash into the wall above the target. But, that’s not the sound I heard. I was lucky I heard the arrow hit the archer butt.

Looking for a five at best I didn’t immediately notice the arrow. Looking off the target entirely I still couldn’t find the arrow. Then, no, that is too lucky – the arrow hit the X. Not only hitting the X but it couldn’t have landed more perfectly. It was probably a one in a million shot.

The top arrow, eyes closed, the arrow got away, but seems like a well trained arrow

The weather “person” promised rising afternoon temperatures. So, after the morning at 18-meters I hoped to practice at 25-meters in the forecasted warmth. Sure enough, after a short cold afternoon bike ride, the temperature peaked into the 40s. On top of that, my new target arrived.

The sad, old, poorly repaired, block targets on my range could no longer do their jobs. Sure arrows slowed down, but there was no stopping them. I’d resorted to shooting a bag, which isn’t a great butt for a 3-spot. On the bag I use a vertical 3-spot is too long and the Vegas style target has only on sort of flat target. It was time for a new butt.

Target are expensive. It is one of the items on which I hate spending money. I know that before long the purchase by using it will end up wasted. You can shoot a bow over and over, you can use arrows over and over, but anything you shoot an arrow into eventually is gone.

What I’d been looking at for a replacement cost over $300. The same item was available on Amazon for $260. Amazon also had another brand that was a little smaller, a few inches, but a third the price. I figured for around $100 I’d take a chance.

In this case, that chance paid off. The target is very high quality as good as or better than the more expense products. The bonus is that it arrived about 30 minutes before I was planning to practice 25-meters.

Found on Amazon for around $100. It is heavy, 70 pounds.

During 25-meter practice daylight began to fade. The range is on a cleared area in the woods behind our house. In those woods, off not too far, I could hear coyotes howling. Usually, I’ll carry at least a pistol with me on the range; particularly in the summer as defense against rattlesnakes and copperhead. During winter months I don’t always bring a pistol. Those coyotes were too close for comfort even though I had a bow.

The coyotes marked the end of a fun day. There was running and riding and shooting. Granted, it was all part of training to do well in archery, which is sort of like a fun job.

“I can’t sleep at night – any idea why?”

Sleep study data

There have been a number of “studies” published stating individuals that have poor sleep who don’t exercise may get better sleep if they exercised. Seriously, that has been studied. Another way to look this is that if you complete a day of hard labor or exercise you are likely to sleep more soundly than if you lounged about all day. Scientists study a lot of topics that are pretty much common sense.

An early run is a nice way to start your day

People are frequently talking with me about their sleep problems. Not because I’m a good listener (I am) but because I have a background in sleep medicine. The most common complaint I hear relates to a poor night’s sleep. Some of the folks have a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which needs a medical intervention. Some folks’ sleep issues are related to poor sleep hygiene and a lack of exercise.

Archery isn’t the same calorie burn as a run, but shoot enough and you’ll get some decent exercise

Without getting too in-depth an example of poor sleep hygiene refers to lounging in bed while watching television hoping to become sleepy. A some piece of advice – If you have a television in your bedroom take it out.

Having a gym membership can provide weights to support muscle mass as well as treadmills or other cardio machines. Nice to be able to go inside when it is raining.

A lack of exercise is, as a rule generally, understood. Running for example is considered exercise. If you run you exercise. A video game played seated would not be considered exercise.

Some folks are runners and prefer cycling. Mountain bike riding can get you out of traffic and into the woods

When you exercise you’ll need to rest for recovery. Sleep is a method of recovery. You do enough exercise, moving around versus playing video games; you’ll find that you can sleep well.

Fitness won’t hurt your skill as an archer

A 12-Mile Mountain Bike Loop Failure

It started as a short 12-mile mountain bike ride. Most of it on trails or narrow dirt roads. There was one section of paved road that I suspected would put me on a loop back home. If it worked I’d have a nice 12-mile loop.

When I started racing bicycles in 1972 our team, The Savannah Wheelmen, had permission to train on Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. There was a road, Perimeter Road, which as named, encircled the perimeter creating a 10-mile loop of the base. Our team would ride around Hunter two to twelve times per day. Since it was a 10-mile loop it wasn’t tedious. The major factor was that it was nearly void of traffic. It remains one of the safest training routes in memory.

Finding a 12-mile loop, mostly off road, here near Athens, Georgia seemed like a great idea. I’d been searching and felt I was close. Heading out to find the last few miles needed to create the course I was optimistic.

Miles of this on a mountain bike is fun. This is a long uphill grade, steep in sections.

For seven miles I was primarily on trails, dirt roads and a very isolated paved road. Then, things got dicey.

I knew a section of the yet discovered loop would be on a more traveled road. It wasn’t a bad road and there were signs to encourage motorists to “Share the Road” with cyclists. This would last only a mile or so before I turned left and took my Cannondale back into the woods to close the loop.

This old shack is next to a single track

The surprise came from a road closure with only four miles of my estimated ride remaining. Riding right wouldn’t work since that would send me in the wrong direction. Left was out because that landed me on a road with heavy traffic. I took road number three a total guess; Monty Hall would have been proud. He’d also have been saddened by my choice –it was the wrong road.

Not exactly certain where this is, but there were cattle everywhere.

After too long and being a bit lost, I needed help. I had my phone in my pocket and decided to consult Google Maps. Naturally, there was no cellular service. I did spot a few folks skinning a deer so I rode over on my bike to ask for help.

This is a familar crossing.

One nice thing about living near Athens, cyclists are a common sight. So are people skinning deer. In fact, many cyclists here skin deer. When I asked how to get back to Good Hope, Georgia, I learned I was way the hell off course. So far so that the fastest way home was to do a 100% back track.

When I passed this, I knew I was at a minimum in the correct county

I’ll try this again with the road is open. I know there is a way to come up with a 12 to 15 mile loop that is almost as safe as those days circling Hunter.

Plantation Ruin

Mountain biking around my home is really pretty nice. I can be on trails, hard pack, or dirt roads within minutes of leaving home.

I try to ride everyday. I doubt I’ll race again – but I might. I think of racing every time I train. The fact is, I ride (and run) as part of an archery fitness plan. At 63 years old I want to compete against seniors although the masters archers are pretty tough to beat. Part of that desire requires I stay fit. I don’t want to end up with high blood pressure and need to take beta-blockers to manage as aliment when fitness and weight management can help reduce the risk of getting high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are banned in archery. Still, there are a lot of archers competing while using beta-blockers. Aside from that cycling off-road is a lot of fun.

While riding in a wooded area I discovered what appeared ruins of an old mansion. It seemed to be more than just a run down old house. I circled the ruins and rode around trails that were on what seemed to be old property to a large estate.

When I got home I searcher the Internet a learned the ruins are the remains of the Casulon Plantation that burned in 2002.

What a shame. The estate was incredible. The Internet report indicated that the couple that owned the Plantation was going through a nasty divorce. The couple was out of town when the Planation burned.  Arson was suspected. It is awful for Georgia to have lost such a nice old home.

Before the fire

Mountain biking is one of my cardio programs used for fitness, which is part of my archery training. It is fun to get out on a bike ride through the woods. You never know what you might discover.

Stretching and Flexibility

Slow and easy, that’s how I go when it comes to stretching. I stretch as part of my morning routine. That is, as soon as I roll out of bed. To some, they’ll say, “Whoa, that’s not good, you could hurt yourself stretching when you’re cold.”

Well, I go slowly. It feels great. I look forward to it.

There was a time when I was extremely flexible. I studied karate for years and I stretched a lot. Cycling took place of karate and it wasn’t long before I lost most of that flexibility. I still ride a bike. I am no longer as limber as I was during my karate phase. But, I realized that flexibility was an importance adjunct to overall fitness.

Coaching Tip

“Flexibility exercise is one of the four types of exercise along with strengthbalance and endurance. Ideally, all four types of exercise would be included in a healthy workout routine and AHA provides easy-to-follow guidelines for endurance and strength-training in its Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.”1

As we age it is easy to neglect flexibly. Well, so are strength, balance, and endurance fitness programs. It is easiest to do zero exercise. You know this is true of most folks as suggested by the current state of obesity in America. For you, an archer, all four types of exercise are more important that you may think – especially if archery is your primary (only) form of fitness training.

As an archer it is a good idea to have a plan that includes flexibility along with your balance, strength and endurance adjuncts to shooting.

A stretching routine need not take a long time. I get all main muscle groups in about 30 minutes. Since I do this first thing in the morning I move slowly and feel tightness slipping away.

There are a number of sights online where you can find more about flexibility and stretching. As this site develops I’ll add my routine if you’d like to follow it.

Reference:

1.) http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/staying-motivated/stretches-for-exercise-and-flexibility

 

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Tips for running in the dark

Lately, most of my running has been done in the dark. I am usually cruising through the woods before sunrise.  That may change when we switch to daylight saving time.

I like running trails in the dark. I like running trails in the light. Either way, trail running is more appealing to me than pounding pavement.

There are a few things to do when running in the dark that are less significant issues when running over trails in the daylight. You need to be aware of how you plant your feet. You need to lift and plant a bit more slowly. Otherwise, you could snag a foot and trip. If the trail is tight don’t run into a tree. You aren’t big enough or fast enough to run through a tree. You are not The Flash. Trees will stop you.

Wear glasses with clear lenses so you don’t poke an eye out on a low limb. You should have a good outdoor bearing for direction. Trails coming and going don’t always look the same in the dark. Have a good headlamp and fresh batteries. Bring a spare flashlight just in case.

During hunting season light yourself up. More than one light isn’t a bad idea. If you are running with a dog, put a red light on her collar. Try to run where you know no one is hunting. You don’t want to get shot because some idiot thought your dog’s red light was Rudolph’s red nose.

Coaching tip

If you are a hunter or 3D archer running though the woods is another way to enjoy the outdoors without a bow in your hand.  It is also a good method for getting you archery fitness on track.

Gym Day

The gym is where I left weights. Monday is the “can’t miss” weight lifting day. My objective with weights is to protect muscle mass. I’m not trying to bulk up or body build. If there is room in my schedule I’ll hit the gym again on Wednesday. Wednesday is a low priority – Monday is fixed.

Of course there are weeks when the schedule needs to adapt. Travel sometimes interferes with training plans. Where I know travel is on the calendar I make adjustments for rest days.

Today, I needed to make an adjustment in the afternoon I ride a bike. Cycling is my second cardio session. Cardio is running in the morning and cycling in the afternoon. Twice a day, morning and afternoon I’ll practice archery. Plans today got a bit warped.

Cycling had to be eliminated. There were simply too many unplanned interferences. One thing did remain constant – how badly I shoot after weight lifting.

Morning practice was decent. Because I dropped cycling I started shooting earlier than usual. Along with that came some real trembling arms.

Trying to stick to a training plan isn’t always possible. Small changes can make a noticeable difference. Not having enough time to allow muscles used to lift weight to recover meant a bit less accuracy shooting. The hour or so I’d spent riding might have given my arms a longer period of time to recover. But, from experience, the archery practice after lifting weights is rarely a keynote session.