Master Athletes Age Better
By Dr. Abe Mirkin
Not Master Athletes
lmost 50 percent of Americans die of heart attacks and
strokes, diseases that are associated with a faulty diet and lack
of exercise. Almost 80 percent are overweight or obese, which is
also associated with lack of exercise. Yet only 13 percent of
people over 65 engage in vigorous physical activity three or more
days a week. Among those over 75, only six percent exercise
Master Athletes: Definition
Master athletes are older men and women who compete
in sports at a very high level, no matter how old they are. They
are healthier than age-matched people in virtually every category
that has been measured, (Nutrition Today, Volume 40, 2006).
Master Athletes More Fit
Of course they are more fit, as measured by their maximal ability to
take in and use oxygen. They have lower cholesterols,
comparable to those of people in their twenties. They have lower
glucose tolerance and HBA1C screening tests for diabetes. They
have lower waist-to-hip ratios, decreasing their risk for metabolic
syndrome and diabetes. They have far less body fat.
Who Can Become Master Athletes
Many people who have never exercised are afraid to
start an exercise program. They should check with their doctors
and get a special exercise stress test. If they pass the test, they
are at low risk for complications during exercise. Then they
should join an organized exercise program.
Why Master Athletes Join Programs
One study showed that 85 percent of middle aged Americans who start an exercise
program quit in the first six weeks. Those most likely to remain
exercised with a spouse or friend, used a personal trainer, or
participated in classes such as aerobic dancing or spinning.
Successful lifelong exercisers usually make their sports part of
their social life, not just a tedious chore.
For more of Dr. Mirkin's reports or to listen to The Dr. Gabe Mirkin Show go to
Sure, fitness training and body building qualify as sports.
Do you have to join a program? No of course not. But you have to be honest with yourself in analyzing
your own personality. If you are a social person, you might be better off joining a group or forming your own
group, even if it is only you and one partner.
Alternatively if you are unsocial like me, maybe you ought to get out to a gym where you will at least have some minimal contact with others.
While I am working out at the gym, I avoid talking. And no way would I workout in a group. But just learning some names at the gym and saying, "Hi, Azman" or "Hi Wiena!",
somehow prevents me from feeling isolated, a major hazard of aging.