The Aging Athlete

by Tim Wright at Gower Acupuncture (Swansea)

The Aging Athlete

As the days grow longer and the temperature warms up (a bit), it’s time to start thinking about getting fit for the summer months. If you’re getting on a bit you may be weighing up exercising versus the aches and pains it can sometimes induce.

Your natural reaction may be to stop exercising. In my opinion this is possibly the worst thing you could do for a number of reasons:

1. Exercise is fun. OK I’m biased as I love sport, but the fact is that exercise makes you feel better. It re-leases feel good endorphins keeping low mood at bay – particularly useful for middle-aged men and women who are more at risk from depression and suicide.

2. The impact on bone from exercise, increases bone density and strength. Bone is a dynamic organism – the more impact it receives the denser it becomes. This means that you’re less likely to break bones and suffer osteoporosis than someone who spends all day sitting in front of the TV. 

3. Exercise keeps muscle wastage at bay. As we age we naturally lose fast twitch muscle fibres which are responsible for power and strength. To stay feeling at optimal fitness it’s a good idea to swap lengthy exercise regimes for short high intensity sessions aimed at re-plenishing this muscle. By using your muscle you can prevent muscle wastage associated with aging.

4. As you age your lung capacity reduces. Try exercising to get more oxygen into your body. In addition yogic breathing exercises such as pranayama can increase blood oxygenation and lung capacity, meaning you’ll feel more sprightly.

5. Exercise can improve joint flexibility. As we age we lose flexibility in our joints. This can transfer stresses to parts of the anatomy not designed to cope with high levels of stress. Counter this by joining a yoga class and get stretching.

6. Staying active combats the wobbles. As you age your balance naturally declines. This can make you more susceptible to falls. Counter this by cultivating exercises that promote balance and stability such as yoga or tai chi.

A word of caution.  As you age you’re more prone to injury. If you do get injured, rest. You can’t take liberties like you did in your youth. Injuries are more easily sustained and last longer in the aging athlete. If you want to speed up the healing process manual manipulation such as massage or osteopathy may help.

Acupuncture can be particularly effective. It can free up stubborn contractions in muscles. The needles break down the tightened area and improve local blood circulation. In addition the micro trauma caused by each needle promotes the bodies own natural anti-inflammatory & healing responses.

Invest in your body, stay active and you’ll be rewarded in old age. After all, wouldn’t we all like to be as active as Faujar Singh… Don’t know who he is? He completed his last marathon in Toronto aged 100…

Want to learn more about acupuncture? Contact Tim on

Tel: 07764 254881


Tim Wright is a Licensed Acupuncturist at Gower Acupuncture and practices in
The Lazy Frog, 1 Uplands Terrace, Uplands, Swansea SA2 0GU

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