The Aging Athlete’s Self Care Guide

19 May, 2022
By Jamie Benjamin

Aging, and the limitations it can present in our lives, are often difficult to accept. Particularly if you have led a very physically active life, being forced to slow down due to age is an uncomfortable reality that can take time to digest.

However, plenty of research tells us ‌you can reach your senior years and still lead a fulfilling, active, healthy lifestyle—you just need to pair it with some practical self care. Accepting your age means reconnecting with yourself, and you can use the Wim Hof Method to unleash your inner power, reconnect your body and mind and unleash your full potential. Part of this connection will involve shifting your athletic regime into slightly gentler, more rounded territory, and not comparing your current athletic abilities to that of your youth.

In the later stages of life, exercise and athleticism become less about high performance and more about holistic health and well-being. If you push yourself too hard, you may injure yourself. But if you do not push at all, there is a risk of illness and listlessness.

It’s all about balance.

Practicing a healthy self-care routine can provide you with the structure, rhythm, and energy needed to lead a rich life. If you are seeking support on your aging journey, this guide to self-care can help you stay youthful and healthy no matter how old you are.

1. Acceptance

One of the things you might experience as an aging athlete is an emotional resistance towards growing older. If you’ve become accustomed to frequent, high-intensity exercise, involuntarily winding down can feel more like getting denied entry to your favorite race rather than an invitation to rest.

However, accepting this phase of your life is an important part of sustaining physical, mental, and emotional health. Yes, you need to slow down, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop completely. There are still many ways you can stay active and enjoy the benefits of health.

Take time to be kind to yourself during this period of change, and reflect on any feelings of discomfort or resistance that may arise. Accepting and embracing your age will help you ‌maintain a better relationship with it.

2. Find the right fitness methods

Just because you are aging, it doesn’t mean you have to give up exercise. It just means that you need to find new ways of approaching it. Selecting fitness methods that focus more on endurance or short, moderate intensity tends to produce the best results for those in their senior years.

Exercises that increase your heart rate and deepen your breathing are typically more beneficial for aging adults. Cycling, swimming, walking and aerobics are all supportive, effective forms of exercise that can easily get adapted to meet your energetic levels.

Balance and flexibility are also important physical modalities to consider. If those are areas you’ve overlooked in the past, now is a great time to experience the joy of trying something new.

3. Hydrate and nourish

These two go without saying, but too often get taken for granted, regardless of age. With age tends to come appetite suppression, which can complicate your relationship with food and nourishment. It also means that your body has a greater need for hydration, especially if you are physically active.

Nourishing your body with delicious, hearty food is one of the pillars of self care. If you are eating and drinking well, your energy levels will naturally increase and you can engage in even more exercise.

4. Practice mindfulness and relaxation

If you’re struggling to adapt to this new season of your life, it could be time for some much-needed reflection, mindfulness, and relaxation. These things can take the form of any activities, hobbies, or practices that resonate with you. Meditation can also teach you to slow down, take stock and to connect with your here and now. Whether you use the Wim Hof Method to practice meditation or you simply center yourself on the earth, the principle remains the same.

Being intentional about how you choose to spend your time outside of everyday responsibilities is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself and processing the many changes, highs and lows you may currently be experiencing.

It is completely normal to feel conflicted, confused, or even afraid of growing older. You are transitioning into a new phase of your life, and that can be hard to accept. What’s important now is that you find ways to process what you’re feeling and come to terms with aging in your own way.

5. Rest well and often

Rest: everyone needs it, but not everyone is good at it. If you’re used to living an active, intense lifestyle, knowing when to take a break can be difficult. But it is absolutely essential for your health, especially as you get older.

Getting consistent, solid sleep every night and taking naps when you feel tired is extremely important for mental and physical wellbeing.

Good quality rest means great quality energy. That means you can get more out of your fitness routine (and many other things) by doing what is sometimes the best thing in the world— nothing at all.

6. Listen to your body

On your journey into senior health and fitness, learning how to listen to your body will be your greatest tool for self-support. Your body will undergo numerous changes along the way. For women, menopause can bring mental and physical changes, and for men, a drop in testosterone can lead to weight gain, a loss in muscle mass and other physiological and psychological shifts.

If your goal is to stay fit for as long as possible, you need to trust your body when it tells you something is wrong. The better you pay attention to the condition of your body (and mind), the easier it will be to stay healthy and prevent long-term problems from setting in.

Your body is an intelligent vessel, and it does incredible things when you give it what it needs.

7. Make Self Care A Way Of Life

Self care is simply about meeting your own needs in a loving and compassionate way. Only you know the intricacies of what makes you thrive, and therefore, it is up to you to provide them.

The relationship an individual has with age, movement, and their body is complex and full of flux, but that makes it all the more exciting. Your journey is far from over!