Changing Physiology and metabolism with ageing.



Slowing the onset of ageing through exercise.

Read an article in a local magazine quoting 3 times olympic gold medalist Peter Snell regarding this topic. He is from N.Z but now based in the USA as a Doctor with specialist knowledge in exercise physiology and cardiology.

The article only touched on the subject above, but some ideas were:

- muscle size reduces with age, and exercise can help slow this,

- The hippocampus(part of the brain important for memory formation etc..) reduces in size more slowly in those who exercise regularly.

- exercise helps keep the heart healthy.

There was some more but much of the article involved motivational ideas for the elderly.

My first thought on the above is that a more healthy heart(cardiovascular system) as a result of exercise is pretty well known and even this alone is a large subject.
I do however think very strenuous exercise(over a long time) can start putting excess stress on the cardiovascular system which can be detrimental. And to get the heart fit a gradual process over many years is a sensible approach.




Changing metabolism/physiology and run down to Wanaka.


The below shows the changing physiology to a degree.

Finishing first in a local multisport race(Dec1990).

Use to weigh 72kgs back in the early 1990's and now weigh in at about 85kgs (today).


Starting out on the run in my first iron-distance race(Jan 2008).

Have a bit less hair these days but can say, 'grass doesn't grow on a busy street'.

That is I am certainly a bit wiser with experience.


Have written before of changing metabolism/physiology as we age. For everyone this does occur and speaking for myself I see it as a gradual process over time. These changes can be worked around a fair bit, that is you can recognise them and change your training patterns to improve areas where you are noticing weaknesses or a drop off in performance. A bad injury or loss of motivation from burnout will cause a much more sudden change in performance than will getting older.

I am going to work on the theory that being consistent in training/exercising and maintaining a steady body weight/healthy diet will be even more important as I get older.

Many athletes retire before there performance drops off for a variety of reasons such as:

- family/children commitments,

- the training is intense and this could become tiresome,

- a good time to finish is when on top(Hamish Carter did carry on for a couple of years after Athens but in part because he could afford to take his whole family along),

- burnout causing a loss of motivation,

- not loss of performance but the realisation that it is a continous struggle to pay the bills,

- Injuries(which aren't related to getting older most often but rather having pushed the body too hard somewhere along the way).

- failing to meet a big goal can really knock the motivation out of a person as I have found out and it can take many years to get back where you once were(a reason to retire). As stated very early on in this blog it is very useful to have a back-up race/goal to cover this eventuality.


What I am getting at is that many people use the fact of getting older as an excuse to 'sit back'(laziness is another synonym). Also for me during the past 5 years of committing more time to exercising again there have been times when I push it. Of course it hurts and there is a bit of soreness the next day, but I just reminded myself that this was no different than when in my early 20's. I think alot of people as thet get older say to themselves, "why I am exercising to the point that the body feels sore"(much better to enjoy eating out and trying some exotic beverages). It is sensible in some ways to take a 'step back' from prolonged intense exercise, but it is not good to drop it all too fast.

Some people do physical jobs which keep them fit, but to stay on top of jobs like this they will have to do some strengthening exercises also.

Office jobs with no exercise will certainly change your physiology/metabolism quicker as you get older than someone who keeps it balanced with exercise.


If you have alot of prior experience and a solid base behind you then you can train smarter for example. This may include taking a bit more time out to recover after hard sessions. There are plenty of guys out there in there forties who can compete head to head with all other age group athletes and a few who can still compete with the elites.



Loosing weight and staying healthy.


Just weighed in and have lost 2+kgs in the last 2-3 weeks. The great thing is that it was a surprise and didn't realise it except for looking a bit slimmer around the waist.

Within several months of March 2003 I gained 10kgs. Blame it on the Winter effect of much reduced exercise and feeling hungry due to the intense cold. It was also the 10 weeks post qualifying in Queenstown for my age group at the upcoming world championships there.

Fast forward 6 months to the time when it was about 10weeks out from the world champs in Queenstown and I was around 92kgs. I went to a training camp for the N.Z athletes and was informed it was possible to loose a maximum 1kg/week and remain healthy. I lost 1kg a week for the next 10 weeks due to increased training and by drinking water when I was hungry. During this time however I was always on the verge of illness with a moderate throat infection that was with me most of the time.

A big surprise to me is that I have had no flu's or sore throats and only one minor cold for the past 5 months(since I took time off work and headed to the Northern hemisphere Summer). Normally through the Winter in N.Z I catch all the viruses around and have a constant cold! Now I have started loosing weight and still feeling no ill health which is helping enormously pyschologically. Did a 120km cycle ride yesterday in inland Southland and have never felt so good. Six months ago did the same circuit and thought the hill in the mid section of it was a mountain. Up until ariving back in N.Z 3 weeks ago had only done about 5 rides in the past 6 months.

Am very aware my bodies physiology is changing slowly as time goes by. Actually noticed this change when I got back to N.Z in 2003. As soon as the air temperature was cool my nose would start running while cycling hard. Worked out it was the coldness because when I went to Fiji and Australia the problem disappeared. Anyway it is not a good problem to have!

Have also been feeling flat for the past 2 years due to decreased health. So really when I am saying everything feels great now, it is because things weren't too good for the last 2 years.

Talked to one of the athletes doing the ITU circuit this year about the right body weight and particularly how most of the athletes were slightly built. She agreed with my observation and pointed out that Sam Warriner had lost 7kgs or so in the last N.Z Summer.

Certainly carrying excess body fat is not desirable if an individual wants to produce their own peak performance.

To reiterate again, this 'training diary' is written to deal with things the typical age group triathlete might come across, in getting their training balance right.

Oh yeah, eating a 'healthy' well balanced diet is essential.



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