Healthy Aging Recovery: Do Older People Need More Recovery Time

Older People Do Need More Recovery Time!

Yes! We Do! So What!

Sometimes I Need Two (2) Recovery Days, So I Take Them!

Build this body-awareness training into your exercise plan!

To go as fast or far as you can. Exercise safely!

For healthy aging recovery, FitOldDogs ebook, Fit and Active into Old Age.

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Body awareness becomes increasingly important for healthy aging recovery.

I should know, still doing Ironman races in my 70s

Crazy Ol’ Coot? No! Happy Older Athlete!

If you wish to avoid exercise-induced injury.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain

Question the obvious.

Especially your own opinions.

Just keep right on learning!

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Healthy aging recovery? I often read articles stating that older people (articles for 50+, 60+, rarely 70+, and almost never 80+) slow down. Need to take greater care of themselves. Require more recovery time after exercise. Need to be swaddled in blankets in a rocker on the porch?

Some people say to me,Kevin, why do you do all that training. Why don’t you age gracefully?


Are these observations correct? How does one find the right test and control groups to compare?

For healthy aging recovery, consider triathlons at any age.

Triathlon! I continue to enjoy this sport in my 70s. I plan to do so for a long time to come. FitOldDog

From personal experience! There’s no question that aging has impacted my recovery time. But am I typical?

I meet men and women at Ironman races. Competing in their 70s and 80s. They could drop most of the men and women I know under 40. In a run exceeding five miles, unless the latter group was given time to train.

We definitely slow down as we age!

But do we need to slow down THAT much?

For healthy aging recovery it is critical to stay in shape or waste into old age.

Just look and learn. Three MRI images through the mid-thigh of three different older men. The inactive person has fragile bones, surrounded by muscles largely turned fat.

If you don’t exercise at all, you will definitely slow down, and your world will shrink. Just look at the adjacent images – pictures worth much more than a 1,000 words.

I’m no great runner, that’s for sure. But I managed to complete the Boston Marathon in four and a half hours. At the age of 67. I was a youngster!

The first person in my age group, 65-69, finished in three hours and six minutes. That is really fast for anyone.

The question remains:

“Do older people need more recovery time. If they are in excellent physical condition?”

What is healthy aging recovery time! The key – avoid injuries at all cost!

Exercise, and belief in your own abilities, begin in your mind!

One place I go for thoughtful answers to such questions is Joe Friel’s Blog.

Here for example is his discussion of performance decline with age in shorter versus longer events:

“Why would Ironman athletes get slower as they aged at a greater rate than their age-related counterparts at the Olympic distance? Of course, what the researchers did here was to compare the split times of, let’s say, 50-year-olds with those of 30-year-olds at the same distance and then compare the rates of decline for the corresponding Olympic and Ironman age groups. The short-course triathletes slowed down the least.

For healthy aging recovery, FitOldDog recommends Joe Friel's blog for endurance training.

Joe Friel’s Blog. Where to go for thoughtful analysis of approaches to endurance training and exercise.

Here’s my take on this. The primary determiner of performance in short-course racing is intensity. These athletes are likely to do very fast-paced intervals to boost performance. For the Ironman-distance the primary determiner of performance is duration. They are likely to do long, steady workouts at a much lower intensity. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then it seems to point the finger of blame for loss of performance with age at training intensity rather than duration.

If you train slower, albeit longer, you are likely to lose performance at a greater rate per decade than if you train fast with perhaps fewer miles.

Healthy aging recovery? Great endurance training exercise tips from Joe Friel in his book Going Long

Great endurance training insights and advice, from Joe Friel.

Joe wrote a series of articles on the effects of aging in athletes. Here is the link to the first one, and you can scroll forward in his blog to see the rest. Joe has plenty to say about recovery, and here I quote from another of his posts: “Recovery should be built into every day, every week, every month and every year. For some this is the hard part. This is where they fail on the path to high fitness.” As older, and hopefully wiser, athletes perhaps we should avoid this pitfall, but often we don’t. And here, finally, is what I found on the effect of aging on recovery, and again, Joe writes: “At age 20 I could bounce back and do this workout day, after day, after day. Now I might be able to occasionally do two of these sessions in a week. One is more likely. I simply couldn’t spring back.

I recommend that you listen to Joe Friel’s advice on this matter.

But more importantly, listen to your body.

Next question about healthy aging recovery, is how much should we adjust our training or exercise program? To compensate for this aging effect?

Here I turned to The Masters Athlete, by Peter Raeburn.

For healthy aging recovery, consider this book, The Masters Athlete bookA great book, but! The associated website does not appear to have a search function. I found my hard copy. Great advice on the effects of aging, and a nice chapter on recovery.

Here is the sentence I liked, from page 222:Recovery is specific to the individual. Just as individuals respond to physical or psychological stressors differently, so also do different athletes respond to different recovery strategies. Try them, evaluate them, and then hold onto the ones that suit you and your lifestyle” [sounds just like Bruce Lee!].

Healthy aging recovery - Earl Fee's great book on running from 9 to 90 years of age.

“Be A Champion From 9 to 90” What about 90 to 110?

Finally, I consulted someone who really knows about being an older athlete. Earl Fee and his book, ‘The Complete Guide To Running: How To Be A Champion From 9 To 90.’

The section on recovery for older athletes in this book is very succinct. “As you age, recovery becomes more important. More rest is required to prevent injury and burnout.” He then provides a lot of information on approaches to recovery. An excellent book.

So there you have it:

  1. Recovery takes longer as you age.
  2. Find what works for you and use it.

The obvious is obviously correct in this case.

But is that true in your case?

Happy Trails,


PS You can always sign up from the Old Dogs in Training free pdf eBook, and receive my infrequent newsletters and ‘picture of the week.’

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  1. Increased recovery time has certainly been true for me as I age. After a while it wasn’t just a matter of finding time for my workouts, but also finding time for the extra sleep and rest that the workouts required in the days afterward. It’s taken me several years and a heightened attention to my body’s signals to find the zone where I can push myself without overdoing it.

  2. Hi LeeAnn,
    Thanks for the comment. Yep! You, me and Joe Friel all say the same thing. We need a little more time. I think the real trick to enjoyable training as you age is to avoid injuries. I like your blogsite, by the way, and I really liked the picture of 100-year old Ruth doing Pilates that you sent out via Twitter Way to go, Ruth.
    -k @FitOldDog

  3. Hi Joe, this is the old nature versus nurture issue for physical ability. I agree that genetics plays a big role, as does nutrition during childhood and adolescence. Being born during a war my body has some issues related to that. War sure is bad for kids. That said, we can do our best with what we have. I recommend that everyone work out to the best of their ability what their personal limits might be, in order to avoid injury. Sure had my share until I wised up. I certainly appreciate your comment. I suspect that my genetics has played a role in my inability to cope with barefoot running, but I did give it the old college try. Thanks again for your comment. Cheers, Kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.