Advice for oldsters by Hermann Saxon

“Frequently friends and correspondents from all parts of the world ask for my opinion about weight lifting and training for older men. Since I have long since passed the three-quarters century mark, there is no doubt that I myself fall into the “older man” category. For the sake of this discussion, let us arbitrarily assume that by an “older man” we mean a man who has passed his 65th birthday.

The first question is, should an older man lift weights? Well, it all depends. Did this man ever train with weights before in his life? Or did he ever do any kind of gym work, or was he ever active in sports to any appreciable extent? If these questions can be answered affirmatively, then I say that such a person can still do some weight training without fear of injury, BUT HE MUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO STRAIN TOO MUCH IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS LIFTS.

He should go through his workout easily, using light weights and performing the various exercises as sort of gym work. It never does me any harm, and soon I will celebrate my 78th birthday. I can only say that I feel very good after I have had a good workout with the weights.

Of course I have my own favorite exercises, but there is no need for me to go into detail explaining the various kinds of exercises, because an older man can follow just about any one of the many courses that are given in this magazine from month to month. The important thing, as I have said, is to make certain that you do not strain and overdo it.

If a man has never lifted weights in his life before, he should start out by doing some routine gym work such as calisthenics and perhaps a little swimming or easy trotting before he considers lifting weights. How long he should do the preliminary work before starting with the weights depends on his physical condition. Just to be on the safe side and for peace of mind, it would be wise to consult with your family physician before embarking on a lifting schedule if you have no previous experience with systematic exercise. It should go without saying that the best place for doing any kind of exercise is in the fresh, clean air.

Of course there is a lot more to fitness than just exercise. Diet and other personal living habits are also of utmost importance. The simplest thing to do is to set up a list of rules of healthful living. My rules are as follows:
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1. Eat only when you are hungry, and try to take your meals at the same time each day.
2. Don’t eat any food which is too highly spiced
3. Be moderate – don’t overload your stomach
4. Take your time at meals, chew your food thoroughly.
5. Don’t eat foods which are too hot or too cold.
6. Vary your menu from day to day
7. Relax before and after meals; avoid exercise or work at those times
8. Avoid constipation
9. Drink liquids only when you feel thirsty
10. Be governed by the condition of your body,but make daily exercise of some sort in the fresh, clean air a habit
11. Wear clothing suitable tp the weather
12. Keep your head cool, your feet warm
13. Keep your skin clean by daily washing, friction massage with a clean towel, or bathing
14. Do sensible deep breathing exercises in the fresh air daily.
15. Sleep at night and keep awake during the day time.

These then are the rules by which my life today is governed. I have found that they keep me happy and efficient. Certainly they differ a great deal from habits I had as a young man. The biggest mistake anyone can make is to think that he can continue to live as he did as a young man when the years begin to pile on. As the body ages, a man simply must learn to slow down the pace of living somewhat. Be sensible, act your age – you’ll live longer, be healthier and happier if you do!”

source: S&H 1958 Jan

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