Consider Present and Historical Baseline Fitness When Training for Aging

How does one train?

For Ironman? You train your body, you train your mind, you train your spirit, you train your ass off.

For Aging? You train your body, you train your mind, you train your spirit, you train your withering ass off.

training for aging

While writing the second edition of my book on how to prepare for aging, under a new title, “How to Train for Aging, the Ultimate Endurance Sport,” it occurred to me that one should consider current and historical baseline fitness levels. They both play a role in the process of getting ready for the toughest endurance race you’ll ever face. Aging!

training for aging
The authorI (left) with two remarkable athletes (center to right) Bob Scott and Kurt Kahl, who provide much needed inspiration,

Hi Kevin, how are you doing, says Bob Scott (age 84), as he passes me (age 74) during the run of the Eagleman Half Ironman race a few years ago. Bob knows all about training later in life, as he has been training all of his life, one way or another. This has provided Bob with a tremendous fitness base for his later years.


When it comes to exercise as you age, your age and baseline fitness level are critical issues. In fact, your historical baseline fitness may be the most important.

You have a present level of fitness, and you have your fitness history. To me, base fitness is wherever you were when you stopped exercising, which may have been years ago. It’s much easier to return to or come close to that level of fitness later in life than it is to start from scratch.

This is why I say that you have been preparing for aging all of your life.


However fit you used to be will influence your rate of improvement when you exercise later. This is true for both physical and mental training.

You were a serious athlete 40 years ago in high school. You have a good chance of rapid improvement now.

Always been a couch potato? You’ll have a tougher time.

Either way, it’s never too late to make dramatic improvements with patience and discipline.

Here’s a short list of issues to consider:

  • Weight status.
  • Past injuries and risks of guarding.
  • Blood pressure, medications, and other health measures.
  • Resting heart rate – the lower the better, generally.
  • Physical strengths in the gym, such as jump rope, pull ups, bench press, and so-forth.
  • Previous skills, as a runner, swimmer or other.

There are plenty of books on this stuff, so hunt around for one you like and read it.

training for aging
Best body movement book, and introduction to the Feldenkrais Method, I ever read, for any type of exercise. It’s not just for runners.

I strongly recommend, Running With the Whole Body, by Jack Heggie, whether you plan to run or not. This book is an excellent and inexpensive introduction to the Feldenkrais Method. Highly recommended. BUT you do have to do all the exercises. They taught me a bunch, especially the power of the mind.

Then join a gym and start learning new stuff by asking questions and watching people who seem to know what they are doing.

I go regularly, and employ a coach when I can afford one.

  • Best, most expensive, least risky: Trained coach or coaches, with laboratory testing for lactate threshold and the like, plus stress tests by a Sports Physician.
  • Next best, less risky: Local Yoga or other body movement classes.
  • Free but on your own, pretty risky: Go slow and listen to your body, along with learning from online body movement videos, some of which are excellent.

It all depends on your state of knowledge, finances and preferences.

Wishing you happy trails,

kev aka FitOldDog

training for aging
Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone.

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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.