As we age certain changes in our bodies are unavoidable, but training consistency with intensity can help us to prolong many of the effects of the aging process. Health is fitness across age, increased work capacity across broad time and model domains throughout life.
For the masters athlete which is any athlete over 40 years of age training and relative intensity are the two factors that have been proven to stunt the aging process. The more work capacity that we have prior to middle age the greater the hedge we have against loss of capacity. The less initial work capacity we have the more obvious age based changes will be. Lifestyle and exercise is a significant factor in successful aging. A high level of fitness as we age attenuates a lot of the negative effects associated with the aging and leads to a significantly better quality of life in later years. Better balance and fall risk is lower. Major medical risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease are reduced substantially with consistent training. Regular strenuous exercise is safer than irregular strenuous exercise. Regular training promotes better bone density and lean muscle mass and may minimize a decline in anaerobic work capacity as we age. Masters athletes display increased testosterone, lower blood pressure, increased cardiovascular respiratory endurance, increased strength, greater muscle mass, better mobility, balance, spinal function and brain function.
Intensity is an important factor in our program because it is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing the rate of return on favorable adaptation. Intensity is the pathway to results, and that is true independent of age. There is a misguided belief that intensity places older athletes at risk. That is false, what makes intensity a safe prescription for an older adult is applying relative intensity to the individual. Relative intensity is defined as working to the boundary of physical and psychological tolerance and not beyond. The way it is taught is thru the mechanics first, then consistency, then intensity. It is the condition of the athlete not the age that creates the increase risk. So if you have an individual that has history of heart disease you would refer that person to a medical professional for an evaluation to determine the type of intensity that should be prescribed.
So as you can see based on the CrossFit Masters manual, training consistency and intensity are very important for allowing us to have a better quality of life as we age. Intensity does not put older individuals at greater risk but actually is required to effect rate of return on favorable adaptations. Relative intensity is what makes this a positive result for the older individual. If you want to live a longer life and have better quality of life then CrossFit and it’s methodology is proven to do just that.