Older man and woman running half marathon

Training is key – whatever your age

Change is a constant phenomenon. Some changes are for the better and others we influence ourselves.

11. January 2017

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Life is not a one-way street, nor is it a steady decline. But one thing is certain, it’s not just downhill from here. Ageing is a change. As such, the road ahead is never predetermined. It’s never a one-way street nor all downhill from here. Rather, every individual has a certain amount of freedom and influence over their chosen path. Environmental influences, biology and genes may impose limits on our development, but there is a great deal of to and fro within these limits. You’re in control. Tap your potential! The key: training.

Mental example:

Over the past few decades, investigators have managed time and time again to furnish impressive evidence of the mental capacity for learning of “elder” people. For example, it proved possible to show that a group of 70- to 80-year-olds were admittedly worse at remembering things compared with 20- to 30-year-olds at the beginning of their training, but the “old” group was able to catch up remarkably over the course of the intensive sessions. After 40 training sessions, the “old” group was only slightly behind the “young” group in terms of its memory skills. Its performance improved by more than 15 per cent.

In another famous experiment, 60- to 85-year-olds received training in multitasking. After just four weeks their test performances exceeded those of 20-year-olds. Even six months after the end of their training they were still performing as well as the 20-year-olds.

Physical example:

Scientific studies have shown time and again that our bodies can be trained at any time of life. For example, 86- to 96-year-old participants in a study on leg training displayed an increase in muscle strength of 170 per cent after just eight weeks (even though they were suffering from multiple concomitant conditions at the time of the study). In addition, their speed and steadiness when walking also improved considerably.

Another study conducted by the Jacobs University Bremen proved that a group of 63- to 79-year-olds who underwent weekly endurance training over a period of twelve months were able to improve their stamina by more than 15 per cent. Interestingly, the scientists also investigated the effect the endurance training had on the mental capability of the participants and determined that this had improved by up to 40 per cent.