It’s nearing the end of January. I’m already seeing a drop off in people at the gym. I go early in the morning where it is about one third seniors and the rest ranging in age from early 20s to late 40s. Most of the seniors have been there for as long as I have been going. I started going nearly ten years ago with most of my serious exercising done in the last seven years, starting at age 69.
There were very few new seniors right after the new year but a lot of younger newbies. Many of them are gone. Why? Did they get bored? It’s been twenty-five days since the beginning of the year and two things are happening. First, the newbies have hit their first plateau. They are seeing a sudden lack of progress after a quick start up spurt.
The second reason is that they started off too fast and didn’t give their bodies a chance to adapt to the new structural changes that occur when they start. They are exercising too hard in an effort to make fast progress and justify their new membership dues. And that is a huge mistake. They hurt. And they haven’t stopped hurting.
Sure, the discomfort (that’s the medical word for pain) is to be expected to some degree. But if you’re mindful and go slowly and carefully at first, the discomfort won’t last for long. Oh, sure, there will always be a little soreness every time you do something a little different, but your body’s infrastructure just needs a chance to adapt. That simply means give your ligaments and tendons a chance to get used to the new loads and stresses being put on them. Give your muscles a chance to rest. Give your joints a chance to get used to new pressures. They’ll all adapt just fine if you give them a chance.
And as for us seniors, it takes a little longer for our infrastructure to adapt. But it will adapt, just give it time.
Men and women, old and young, when you start a new exercise program, take it easy at first. If you are one of those who started out big on January first but are tempted to give up due to unexpected and unwanted pain or discomfort, give it a rest for a few days and then start over. Only start more slowly this time around.
Don’t be one of those who stops 25 days into the new year just because you feel a little discomfort or have reached one of those dreaded plateaus. Your body is made to move. You deserve the many benefits you get when you move it. Whatever you do, don’t quit!
Thank you for reading.