Ageing is many peoples greatest fear because many believe that to age is to wane, that life doesn’t get any better but I for one haven’t seen that to be true. Working in a gym gave me an excellent insight because I saw people from all walks of life and in all stages. What I like to remind myself every so often is that the healthiest and fittest people there, and particularly the happiest were sometimes the eldest.

Now don’t get me wrong, age is a big challenge and putting the miles on the clock is going to add some wear and tear but I do like to see the body and mind just like a car. The question being, what kind of miles are you putting on and how do you drive?


In the same way that driving aggressively can cause your car to wear out sooner or by simply not maintaining it properly the body ages badly when not cared for. The fact is that working in the gym I met many people who didn’t just look younger than they were they lived younger too. I got the chance to get to know them personally and get an insight into whether their good health was luck and genetics or whether they themselves had a greater part to play.

The answer I found is that just like with a car it is luck the exact version you are given but the greatest impact on how you age is in how you take care of what you have. For example one of the ladies I knew is an inspiration to this day because I thought she was 60 and doing well for her age. To make conversation I asked her what she was training for to which she replied she was going on a skiing holiday in a few weeks. Skiing is in my eyes on of the most intense activities there is so you have to be pretty darn fit even to do it let alone be any good. This lady was treating it like a normal thing and I thought how great it is to be able to do something this intense as a normal activity at 60. Good for her, I thought, just think of all the other cool things she must be able to do that many of her age can’t like run around with her children because unfortunately even climbing stairs is a challenge for many at that age.


Because I worked in a gym I knew people ages because it’s part of prescribing the right activities and such so I had a quick check and found she was in fact 80. Yep you read that right, an 80 year old grandma thought nothing of popping across to the alps for a bit of skiing. Now that is a woman to be inspired by isn’t it. So the question is Was this exceptional health down to luck and genes. Not really because when I put the question to her she said she was always active through her life and didn’t want to let herself go. Her attitude determined her health, not her genes.

Maybe this is a lucky find but she was not the only person at this gym who had the same result. Several people I found were experiencing health 20 years younger than their nominal age. The pattern I found was that they all had the same attitude that they must use their body or lose it so they chose to maintain it well. The fact is that the body doesn’t just need a yearly check up but a more regular one a few times a week. In fact that’s what cars are like because they still need to be used regularly, often every day, in order to function properly. In fact most cars need to be given a decent run regularly enough to keep themselves working properly.

These insights didn’t just apply in the gym I worked in. When I look wider I find the same story every where. Being older can and should mean the same health and happiness you knew when you were younger. To those who maintain their body properly this is invariably the case.

The Neurobiology of Aging

I love how science changes as we learn more, and what once was said to be impossible is now being shown to be possible as this video from the 2016 Brain Awareness Video Contest shows, cognitive decline doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of ageing.

Just watching this video is like going back to my psychology A level. Something I really enjoyed. The beauty is simply in understanding the body as a whole. So many know a lot about the body but little about the mind. This is the same as knowing all about a computer but not the operating system it runs or a car but not the fuel and engine it uses. The knowledge is incomplete.

This particular topic on aging reminds us that the brain is there to be used as we age just as when we are young. There is no evidence that any decline is inevitable it is just that that is what normally happens. So all you really have to do is choose to use your brain as much when you age as when you are young. In fact, as far as I can learn from my seniors it is the experience you possess when you are older that enables you to out compete the younger fitter individuals. My plan is to keep my fitness while gaining the experience so I can have the best of both worlds when I am older.

Further reading

So that is my personal experience so far and I wanted to see what the existing research has to say. For now though, as a working dad I have found plenty of fascinating insights but haven’t had the time to put them into an interesting story. I list them below so you can look through them.

I also found Dave Hughes ‏@HughesDC_MCMP particularly useful

“Favourable impact of sprint exercise on aging muscle” … -Fibre type % in different age groups

So, that is what I have so far. Please let me know what you think and what else you would like to know.

Photo Credit: Older man: Neil. Moralee, Skiier: sunflowerdave (professional loungist) via Compfight cc