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Why Everyone Over 50 Should be Training for the Senior Games
Author: Phil Campbell, M.S., M.A., FACHE

New biomedical research proves why everyone over 50 should be training for the senior Games.

Research discoveries in 2002 show that we can unleash the most powerful body fat cutting, muscle toning, anti-aging substance known in science, naturally, with specific types of exercise. And the workouts necessary in training for many of the Senior Games events will do the job.

The American Heart Association recently cited research showing that high-intensity exercise can significantly lower the risk of heart disease. Simply, as exercise intensity goes up, the risk of heart disease goes down.

The researchers compared the impact of different levels of exercise intensity. The study subjects (men average age 66) in the high-intensity exercise group produced a 31% risk reduction for heart disease. And this was 14% better than those who performed "less intense" exercise.

"The harder one exercises ... the lower the risk of heart disease," said lead researcher Dr. I-Min Lee, associate professor Harvard Medical School.


Anti-Aging Exercise

Anaerobic exercise (as contrasted with aerobic exercise) is short, high-intensity training, not endurance training.

Researchers show that high-intensity anaerobic workouts that include the short-burst, get-you-out-of-breath, sprinting types of exercise, will make your body release significant amounts of growth hormone, (Impact of acute exercise intensity on pulsatile growth hormone release in men, 2000, Pritzlaff).

As children, growth hormone (HGH) makes us grow taller, but when we reach our full height, this hormone actually changes roles. When we’re adults, increasing HGH will reduce body fat and trim inches. Growth hormone actually becomes the ‘fitness hormone’ for middle-age, and older adults.”

Anaerobic exercise (as contrasted with aerobic exercise) is sprint training, not endurance training. And new studies show that HGH can be increased by as much as 530% with sprinting, (The time course of the human growth hormone response to a 6s and a 30s cycle ergometer sprint, 2002, Stokes).

Anaerobic sprint workouts can be done in many different ways - running, swimming, cycling, XC skiing - and all of these are Senior Games events.


Whatever You Do, Don't Do This!

Don’t jump in, ease in to anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic fitness training is clearly the most productive. But it’s also the most dangerous. Hamstring pulls are a primary target and this makes flexibility training an essential part of every fitness plan.

Everyone, especially those with heart conditions or medical problems should get physician clearance before performing anaerobic exercise. Even young athletes should progressively ease into high intensity anaerobic workouts.


Intensity Relative to Age

The American Heart Association study also proves another important point concerning fitness training during aging - exercise intensity is relative to one's age and fitness level.

In other words, an older individual can reach high-intensity levels with an effort level that might be considered low-intensity for a young athlete.

This new study confirms the need for higher intensities, but it also shows that beginners and older adults can reach the more productive levels of exercise intensity with less effort than a triathlete, for example.

Newcomers to high-intensity exercise may get great results initially by performing the anaerobic training with power walking, but a fine-tuned triathlete however, may need more work for the same results.

When you see an 80 year old participant running a 10-K or working out in the gym, don't think that it's unfortunate that she can't run as fast, or lift as much as her 60 year old counterparts. This just means that it's easier for her to reach higher intensities.

If you’re over 50, get physician clearance first, select a Senior Games event or two, and get started with a gradual buildup training program.


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RESEARCH SUMMARIES CITED:

The American Heart Association Release
http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3008814

National Library of Medicine:

“the GH secretory response to exercise is related to exercise intensity in a linear dose-response pattern.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11960957&dopt=Abstract

“It would appear that the duration of a bout of maximal sprint exercise determines the magnitude of the HGH” response…”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12137178&dopt=Abstract

“GH secretory response to exercise is related to exercise intensity” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10444604&dopt=Abstract

Additional support studies:

“We conclude that a positive relationship exists between exercise intensity and both CHO(carbohydrates) expenditure during exercise and fat expenditure during recovery and that the increase in fat expenditure during recovery with higher exercise intensities is related to GH release.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10956336&dopt=Abstract

“GH accelerates body fat loss, exerts anabolic effects and improves GH secretion.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11706505&dopt=Abstract

“exercise is a robust stimulus of GH secretion” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12457419&dopt=Abstract


“Total carbohydrate oxidation (exercise plus post exercise period) was significantly higher for HIE (high intensity)” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=9100214&dopt=Abstract

“. A minimum duration of 10 min, high intensity exercise consistently increased circulating GH in adult males.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1619005&dopt=Abstract







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Senior Games participant and author of Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness - 2nd Edition

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