Throughout my life, I have exercised regularly with robust training plans. This has resulted in not only maintaining my fitness levels to a reasonably high standard, but going further to improve my fitness levels in my 50s. I have achieved this through running 40-50 miles weekly, alongside strength and conditioning workouts and, more recently, yoga.
I’ve achieved a consistent 10k run in 38 minutes, regularly finishing first in my age category and top 3 in a 500-1,000 participant race. I’ve also won ITV’s Body Heat, was a gladiator audition finalist, and represented the British Army at a triathlon many moons ago.
Being competitive, I love fitness competitions. For the past few years, I have participated in Orangetheory’s Dri-Tri event, which is a triathlon without the swimming. Time starts when you start rowing and finishes when you complete the 5k run.
The Orangetheory (OT) Dri-Tri consists of:
- 2,000m on a rowing machine
- 300 bodyweight exercises: bunny hops, step-ups, press-ups, burpees, and jumping planks
- 5k treadmill run
At 55 years of age, I became the UK’s Orangetheory (OT) national Dri-Tri ‘King’, beating all age groups, and proving that with the right focus, consistency, resilience, healthy eating, and a robust training plan, age is just a number.
I successfully defended my title the following year in March 2023, beating my last record by an incredible 2 minutes and 13 seconds, with a finishing time of 31 minutes and 20 seconds.
To aid overall fitness and stability, stay strong, and help to reduce injury, I regularly do bodyweight exercises such as press-ups, pull-ups and free weights. I train up to twice daily regardless of the weather, mixing up the workouts so that they never become robotic or boring.
Recovery is a vital component and is especially important the older we get in order to maintain flexibility. Good nutrition is also crucial, however, I do have balance with the occasional cake, chocolate or glass of wine. But I very rarely drink fizzy pop, instead staying well hydrated with water. I also always build a rest day into my weekly training plans.
Top tips to stay fit and healthy well into your twilight years:
- The earlier you start the better, but not essential – you can start your fitness journey at any age.
- Be consistent.
- Find an activity you love – even dancing is a great way to raise your heartbeat and counts as exercise.
- The only person to be in competition with is yourself.
- Remember the 80/20 rule for running or any endurance-type sport/activity – 80% of your weekly running, for example, would always be ‘easy’, which is relative to your level of running, and 20% high intensity.
- Always do a warm-up, cool down, and stretch.
- Maintain good sleep.
- Stay hydrated and make healthier food choices – this nourishes and feeds your body, muscles and joints.
As I get older, my motivation to exercise has changed slightly. Now I think about how being fit will positively impact my life: maintaining my activity levels will hopefully increase my chances of staying independent, being able to pick something off the floor without effort, and living a healthy life.
What you do with your body today sets you up for tomorrow and beyond, increasing happy endorphins, and enhancing a feeling of great achievement. I aim to still be competing even in my nineties.
I am currently in training for my next exciting fitness challenge in 2023: Hyrox, https://hyrox.com. I’ll report back with the hope that I have done well, but like with anything, practise, learning, consistency, resilience, and not giving up are key.
Don’t wish for it, work for it, and remember, you are never too old to start your new fitness journey to a healthier lifestyle.
About the Author
Kevin is a Clinical Director at Central Health Network Ltd with over 20+ years of experience as a specialist Physiotherapist with a deep insight into injuries and their prevention and management. www.centralhealth.org.uk.