The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. In fact, I have a contest going right now. So if you have a story to share, no matter how big or how small, you’ll be in the running to win a big prize. Read more here.
I’ve been intending to write this for some time but was waiting for some milestone. I guess that 75 years is a good one. My birthday was last Saturday.
Basic statistics. At present I am 5’8″ tall, weigh between 176 and 180 lbs. with a 32″waist. Before I discovered the paleo lifestyle I was 205 lb with a 39″ waist. I was also asthmatic, arthritic, grumpy, and on the verge of diabetes.
My doctor told me straight: lose weight or go onto medication. Great. I had been struggling with weight gain for forty years. In my twenties I had given up smoking, in my thirties I was gaining weight steadily, so I took up jogging seriously. It worked for a while, but inevitably injuries accumulate. At forty I looked scrawny, but with a bit of a tummy. I gave up jogging and became a gym rat. I enjoyed lifting. I never liked aerobic classes, but did a lot of walking, skiing, scuba diving and tramping apart from the gym, and that seemed to work. I realise now that I had become what they call muscular fat.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a few questions about exercising for seniors. Last week’s post drew a lot of comments, and a few questions about how seniors should train. First, I’ll explore isometrics as an alternative for building strength and power. Can you get away with only trying to move weight? Next, I show how yoga can be an effective strength-builder in older adults. Then, I discuss how aging affects recovery. Many people notice that their recovery time goes way up the older they get. I’ve noticed it myself. Why does it happen?
By next year, Americans are expected to spend nearly 11 billion dollars on skin care annually. By some estimates anyway, the biggest share of this market goes to “anti-aging” products. Anti-aging… As I noted in an offhand way a few years back, there’s a certain enjoyment in looking good naked (or just looking good), and there’s nothing wrong with that. Looking “good” is largely a reflection of optimum inner health—nothing un-Primal about that. Great health is what we’re all here for. The “extra” rewards that come with it aren’t anything to shake a stick at—or to be sheepish about.
But the health ambition isn’t really what’s behind the statistics above. At their best, anti-aging products boost the body’s natural processes (or at least don’t undermine them with toxins). At their worst, these products promise a way to cheat effort as well as time. While taking care of your skin is part of basic hygiene, too often the claims have more in common with a hat trick than genuine wellness. But which is which?
The older you get, the more important strength, agility, power, and lean mass become. This isn’t how most people approach old age. They expect strength and all the other trappings of physical capacity to degenerate, and so they do. It’s what happens all around us, every day. Seniors are feeble, right?
The weight room is scary for a lot of people. Hell, even able-bodied youngsters in the prime of their lives shy away from lifting heavy things. So, first things first: Seniors should definitely strength train. If you’re unsure of your form and capabilities, find a trainer who works with older folks and ensure your safety. Just get out there.
Today’s guest post is written by Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and owner of TD Athlete’s Edge. Tim is a longtime friend of the Primal community, and I’m thrilled to have him contribute today. He’s offered to lead us through a portion of the screening he uses to evaluate players as well as exercises to improve weaknesses. I think you’ll find a great deal to apply to your Primal fitness in the tips and demonstrations.
Every former competitive athlete’s worst nightmare is that moment when you lose to a younger person doing the sport you love. When the cocoon of invincibility and superiority you’ve erected around yourself comes crashing down and a piece of your self-identity shatters. It can truly feel like the end.
I know the feeling. Several years ago on a family ski trip, my son challenged me to a downhill snowboard race. We’d been doing these races—and I’d been winning them—ever since he was old enough to board. It was tradition that we race, and that I win. It’s just how it played out.
This time was different. I was a newly minted member of the 6-decades club. He was a young man, fully grown, years of sports under his belt. He smoked me. It wasn’t even close. And suddenly I realized that despite being in the best shape of my life relative to my age, that upper limit was trending down.
A big reason most people never stick to a serious exercise routine is that the benefits most people are interested in take a while to appear. Fat loss, muscle gain, boosts to strength, speed, and stamina—these physical manifestations of training adherence can take weeks and even months to show. That’s plenty of time for folks to give up, convinced exercise is just not for them.
I get it. I do. But that’s not a valid excuse for not exercising. You know it’s important, you know what the benefits are, and I’m not going to sugarcoat things: training is not optional.
Everything in the world is conspiring to make you fall over. The ground can be slippery, slick, and studded with protrusions. The earth can move under your feet. The discarded banana peel is an ever present threat. Gravity itself exerts a constant downward pull, and any tissue straying from perpendicularity with the ground feels the pull that much more. That we manage to stay upright at all is impressive.
Not all of us do.
For youngsters, balance is something you actively practice in certain situations: it’s what you do when walking along the top of the monkey bars or ride a surfboard/skateboard/snowboard. You only think about balance when you decide to test it. Good balance enhances your ability to move through and interact with the world. It’s essential for all of us—and especially for athletes whose feats put them at regular odds with the forces that threaten to throw us off balance.
Most health and fitness writers don’t spend a lot of time on cartilage. As tissues go, it’s fairly isolated. It doesn’t contain blood vessels, so we can’t deliver blood-borne nutrients to heal and grow it. Cartilage has no nerve cells, so we can’t “feel” what’s going on. Doctors usually consider it to be functionally inert, a sort of passive lubricant for our joints. If it breaks down, you’re out of luck, they say.
But that’s what people used to think about bone, body fat, and other “structural” tissues: that they are inert rather than metabolically active. The truth is that bone is incredibly plastic, responding to activity and nutrition, and that body fat is an endocrine organ in its own right, secreting hormones and shaping the way our metabolism works. What about cartilage? Can we do anything to improve its strength and function?
For hundreds of years, the localizationism theory of the brain reigned: the idea that the adult brain is composed of distinct regions, each responsible for a separate function. Most people still hew to this, assuming that vision goes here, memories there (with separate sections for short and long term memories), smell here, verbal fluency over here and quantitative processing over there. We assume the number of neurons is fixed and their wiring soldered.
But the emerging science of neuroplasticity shows how wrong this is: rather than fixed and immutable, the neural connections between different “regions” of the brain can reorganize themselves. This is why someone with brain damage to one part of the brain can often recover—neuroplasticity allows a healthy section to assume the role of the damaged section. It’s also how we learn, form memories, and develop new skills.