By Tom Wilson

We all know the aging process presents challenges. For the average male, it all starts with decreased testosterone levels. This causes a complicated, negative chain reaction which ultimately leads to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat. Then the excess body fat causes additional stress on the internal organs which makes the body work harder while draining your energy levels. It also increases the stress on the joints, causing unnecessary pain and often opens the door to injury. It’s not a pretty picture, but the good news is we can slow this process through proper exercise and nutrition. The ironic thing is the negative changes associated with age effect our ability to do the very thing to prevent it…vigorous exercise!

I’ve had so many people tell me they used to enjoy doing “this or that” but they can’t do “this or that” anymore because of all the aches and pains they’ve developed over the years. They say they’re getting too old for that kind of “stuff.”

That kind of stuff is called being active and it’s the prescription for feeling young and staying healthy. If you give up on that, you’re letting Satan win the battle for your health. Do not allow that to happen. Maybe all you need to do is stop using age as an excuse and make some simple adjustments in your training. A good exercise routine can often reverse the damage done by neglect and get you back to doing the activities you enjoy! If you’re already active but starting to feel more aches and pains than benefits, it’s time to make some adjustments in your training methods.

The problem is we get locked into a certain way of training and it’s tough to make the necessary adjustments dictated by what our bodies are telling us. I was a college strength and conditioning coach for 17 years and wanted to lead by example. So I was in the weight room with the boys following the same routine they were doing. That worked well for me until a few years back. My joints were feeling the effects of lifting the heavy weights over the years and I knew it was time to rack the heavy dumbbells and make some adjustments. This isn’t an easy thing for most men to do. For one, you’re admitting that age is catching up to you. For another thing, we’re creatures of habit and it’s often difficult to break out and try new routines. But actually, it’s just what the doctor ordered. Your body needs the variety a change in routine provides.

Maybe running creates too much stress on your knees or hips, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a fast paced walk or strenuous hike. I switched from running to mountain and road biking years ago. I now enjoy riding way more than running and the stress on my knees is gone. The biking actually strengthened my knees so now I can go for the occasional run if I want.

If the gym is your thing, try changing from a low repetition/heavy weight workout to a high repetition/lighter weight routine. I’ve been experimenting with this for years and have enjoyed great results without all the stress on the joints. The increase in repetitions will also provide you with greater endurance for other activities such as playing with your kids or joining Walk and Worship!

Whatever excuses you may be using to avoid exercise, get rid of them! There’s always something you can do and something is always better than nothing. Make some simple adjustments, discover what works for your and get back in the game. In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.”