Fitness as a compound investment
Slowing down, losing mobility and strength needn’t be the case as we age. We should want to be sustainably fit in my future and this means a mindset change on our approach to sport and fitness. A change to viewing fitness as a compound investment, not something to be won. Viewing fitness as a process, not an event.
Looking back at my own past and I’ve started to see why my mindset on fitness is as it is. I played rugby during the winter and did athletics during the summer whilst at school, the focus was always on the next season. Training for the rugby season, followed by training for the athletics season. The next year was always a case of rinse and repeat.
We weren’t taught to have a long term view. We weren’t taught to think about what we want to do in 5 years and plan accordingly. It was always about the next season, or quite often the next match.
Fast forward into my 20s and playing football. Again the focus was always on the season. Preseason starting in August, building some fitness and getting back some match practice. Then was the season, mostly trying and failing to stay fit enough to play week in week out.
Once the season was over it was time to relax from April all the way until preseason started again. Spending the summer doing very little fitness. Again, there never a real focus on what could or should happen two or five seasons down the line.
Jump forward again and now I’m in my mid-30s. Football has fallen by the wayside and I find myself in almost the same mindset. The sport may have changed but I still seem to have been the same.
Reflecting back over the last few years and I’ve followed that same pattern. Build for the season or even just a race. Train through to that and then need to shut down. Fitness resetting and then starting again.
With this pattern has come an approach of going hard to play catch up. Upon reflection, this really hasn’t worked for me. It’s led to overtraining and injury through trying to absorb too much too quickly.
I’ve started to try and change my viewpoint. I’m looking towards the long term. The place where I’m looking is those elderly relatives around. Those that have remained consistent moving regularly and enjoying sports such as hiking are far more mobile. They enjoy their time. Those that haven’t followed that route are now losing mobility and becoming isolated.
So now, regardless of age, is time to change that. Viewing fitness not as a goal to be obtained for a race or a season but as a long term investment in our own futures. Being able to keep up with grandchildren, heck, even outpace them.
Being able to be happy, strong and mobile when old age comes, not couped up in the same seat every day is incredibly important. Sacrificing that for being able to “win” in the short term just makes less sense.
Fitness is a compound investment, it really only works if you view it as a long term project over years and that’s a big mindset change. One that will pay dividends in the decades to come.
So what is the approach that can help?
Well, it’s not exactly innovative, it’s common sense. Sometimes, however, it’s those things that are so easy to ignore.
The first port of call is making sure intentional movement, going for a walk, a run or any other exercise forms part of your daily routine.
Second up, every day, do something small to work on your mobility. It could be a daily yoga class or simply having a stretch. As long as there is the intention and focus on your weaknesses, the benefits will come.
Thirdly, work on your strength. Lift weights or do bodyweight exercises. Again something intentional. Losing muscle strength is often a precursor to becoming frail as you age. It does not have to be that way.
Finally, don’t let niggles turn to injuries. Sure the above three will help prevent them, but life happens. You pick up a child at an awkward angle, there’s Lego on the floor, or you just trip. Make friends with a practitioner who can help get things back on the right track if things do go awry.
View your fitness as a compound investment in your future. That’s the approach I’m taking to mine. Add to it consistently over time and you will reap the rewards for decades, not just races or seasons, to come.
Here’s to a strong, mobile and sustainable future.