Functional Fitness After Fifty

Functional Fitness After Fifty

I spent a large portion of my adult life being a gym rat.  Pounding the iron on the journey to size and strength.  Back when I started out there was no internet so the main source of information was Muscle and Fitness magazine and looking for the biggest guy in the gym and doing whatever he did.

Not realizing that he was probably juicing (And I don’t mean some fruit and vegetable cocktail).   As a result I pounded as much weight as I could as often as possible.  The result was I got bigger and stronger but at a price.  Injuries that I ignored,  didn’t let heal properly, or get treated came back to haunt me as I got older.

These injuries really started showing their color as I entered my 50’s resulting in a few surgeries, arthritis, and chronic joint pain.  But I kept pushing looking for the old glory until I had my first back surgery at 54.   Even after that I only slightly modified my activities.  The results were predictable.

So as I’m awaiting a date for another back surgery I’ll offer a little reflective guidance for the over 50 Agents and security providers out there.  I base the following on my experience and yours may be different.  As we get older we need to re-evaluate our fitness goals to encompass long term fitness.  What do we need to do to be at the top of our professional game and personally.


Whether at home or on road make time to workout.   Exercise should be functional and support your day to day activities.   Core work should be an essential part of the program, we spend a lot of time getting in and out of cars, chairs, and moving through crowds a strong core will make that easier.  I rely heavily on body weight exercises, kettlebells, some yoga, sandbags, walking, and occasional rucking.   I like to keep my workouts to an hour in time this also helps when traveling and on a tight schedule.  It keeps me from getting bored and into that old this sucks mindset.  I do 30 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical to start then move to sets of pushups, pull-ups, burpees, crunches, back extensions, kettlebell swings, get ups, air squats, flutter kicks, and other exercises.  Time between sets is 30 seconds max.  If time is a real issue I’ll make 15 minutes for myself and do push-ups, air squats, squat thrusts, and crunches.  That’s my minimum.

The other half of the equation is diet.  Battling weight gain is harder over 50 (at least for me) then when I was younger.   I think it is Stew Smith who said you can’t out work a poor diet or words to that effect.  We can’t continue to eat like we’re 30 especially if our activity level is low.  We have to eat right and push the plate away.  Being on the road makes it hard long shifts, restaurants (or not), large portions, I have found that I have to make the effort to eat right.  That can mean packing or locally purchasing food items when traveling, ordering the salad or from the lite menu, passing on the fries or second beverage.

Just as important as exercise and diet is getting enough rest.  I know especially when we’re younger and getting after that goal it’s easy to blow off, but the reality is we need rest to function at our best and make good decisions.   I like to set my gauge at at least 6 hours a day much less and I tend to lose focus.

I also find that a 15-30 minutes power nap can be a good thing.

Lastly is hydration.  I’ve been a big soda and caffeine drinker for years.  The last couple years have shown me the necessity to increasing my water intake and cutting back on the soda and caffeine.  Flying and long days outside on the shooting and driving track quickly take their toll without proper prehydration and continued hydration.   I like to start the day with a 32 oz Nalgene bottle of water and continue drinking water throughout the day.  If I’m out in the heat and active I’ll add an electrolyte powder to my water.

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In conclusion if you entering or are in your 50’s evaluate your exercise program (if you’re not exercising see your doctor before starting one) to see if it’s meeting your long term needs.  Look at you weight, diet, and lifestyle do they mesh.  Get enough rest to include downtime with the people you care about and not just your coworkers, and hydrate to keep yourself healthy.   And finally as we progress into our 50’s and 60’s start to think about what you want out of this phase of your life.  Is it all about working and making money, is it time to make time for family and maybe some enjoyment travel, or giving back to the community or next generation of security providers.  Thanks for reading.


Art Dorst is a consultant and training provider for LaSorsa & Associates and owner/operator of A. Dorst Consulting and Training Services.

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