If you are like a lot of people who participated in sports through junior high, high school and college, there are probably a few things you would go back and tell yourself. You would likely tell yourself to mind your form while you were working out. You would probably extol the virtues of the "active recovery" day between hard training sessions. You may even tell yourself to drink more water and lay off the junk food. Oddly enough, the reasons why this advice was so important to your 20-something-year-old body are still relevant today in your... not-20's.
Water is the Essence of Life
According to a University of Florida study, most Americans are chronically dehydrated, consuming well below the National Academy of Medicine's recommended intake of 2.7 liters of total fluid for women and 3.7 liters of total fluid for men. While it may seem impossible to consume 2.7L of fluid a day, this recommendation includes all of the water in your food. In fact, the NAM says that most people get adequate amounts of water if they let thirst be their guide, but this is only true if you are drinking water.
But what happens when you don't drink enough water in a day?
The body is comprised of around 60 percent water. If you think of the body like a machine, water is the oil that lubricates all of the surfaces that would normally produce friction. Joints, muscles, even your eyes and ears depend on adequate amounts of water to function the way they should. A person who is chronically dehydrated is not only more likely to feel weak, tired and experience joint pain, they are more likely to have impaired kidney and liver function.
Time to Change How You Work Out
The unfortunate truth about aging is that the body begins to break down muscle mass and bone tissue after about age 30. Many people find that they can happily work out the way they did in their 20's... until suddenly they can't. Rather than relying exclusively on sports, weightlifting and running for your daily burn, now is the time to start incorporating workouts that will help you preserve your joints into your twilight years. Swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, yoga, and pickleball can help you stay fit without sacrificing your knees to the basketball gods. Even weight lifting can be enjoyed into your 70's and 80's as long as you change your mentality from building muscle and bulking up to preserving muscle mass and bone density.
Mind Your Form!
Think back to you as a 13-year-old. Chances are, you were not the most graceful swan in the flock. What was possibly more frustrating than the pants that were too short and hormones coursing through your veins was your inability to shoot a basketball with your gangly arms or run with flippers instead of feet. What happened? Over time, you learned how to use proper form with the body you had. Aging is no different. You pay for a pick-up game when you try to get out of bed the next day or you may even be frustrated that you are not as strong as you once were. Now is the time to revisit your form as you lift, bend, squat, stretch, climb, or twist so you can learn how to use the body you now have.
Even though you can't go back to talk to your 20-year-old self, consider the impact implementing some of your "I wish I would have..." list into your daily routine today.