16 July, 2018
At 70, Bob Arnot, who is a nutritionist and author, is also a competitive paddleboarder. He also runs, and skis, as well as participates in bicycle races. He has authored a few books and even hosted a TV show. In an interview published by Marketwatch recently, Arnot talked about what keeps him going, his exercise regimen and breaking myths about senior citizens taking to sports.
About his exercise regimen
Arnot confesses that he was always an exercise fanatic and for him, paddleboarding is a dream sport. He loves it because it combines strength, balance, agility, core, cardiovascular and if done correctly, involves every muscle in the body. He believes that in your 60s and 70s, one needs to train like a pro-athlete. He races every weekend and wins against people in their 20s and 30s. According to him, a professionally trained 60 or 70-year-old, can match the muscle mass and heart-lung power, of someone who is gymming in their 40s or even an inactive 25-year-old. So, while he is 70, he feels 25.
On myths about seniors
Arnot says he was around 64 when he started professional training with a coach and anxiously asked him when he will fall apart. The coach told him that in professional training, people only better and stronger and hence wouldn’t fall apart. It has since been six years, and he has competed in 25 races till date, with the World Championships coming up. While it is a tough sport, flirting with the ocean waves, he says that he is up to it, as he feels young.
According to him, the biggest myth seniors live with is that they can’t get better, while some of the most competitive, cross-country ski racing groups are 85-year-olds, with even a few 95 to 100-year-olds. Old age itself a myth as per him, suggesting that you need to slow down. Even with the issues, he feels that one needs to fight every day to get better and keep going. He, in fact, has had both his hips replaced. So, his advice is to stay as strong as you can and is possible.
Advice to seniors who want to do something like this
He urges people to find something that they love and is fun to do. He loves surfing because he feels its a welcoming community, irrespective of your doing well or not. He also cautions that as you age, the body loses some elasticity, which is why it is best to have something like a board in between. For the same reason, he loves mountain biking. If, however, you choose to run, you will get slower. He also urges people to pick the competitions wisely and not worry about failing. The idea is to have fun and just keep going.
About mind playing a role
According to Arnot, when one starts off, there are bound to be lots of doubts on whether we can measure up to the young 20 or 30 somethings. Hence, the mind plays an important role, and one has to believe that one is only 25 years. Positivity and optimism also help a lot in this. Because you will be fighting to survive every day, the mind plays an important part in this. Also, you may be fighting diseases like Arthritis or Asthma as well. There could be pains and itches that make it difficult to get up, and there could also be well-meaning people who tell you why shouldn’t be doing it. He believes in cognitive therapy and suggests that people should feel responsible for how they feel. He feels we owe this to ourselves.
He doesn’t believe in retirement as he knows that the average life expectancy is only around 62. So, if you are 50, then you may well have only about ten years left, and hence, wants to take the life expectancy to 82. So, as per him, when you hit 60, one needs to dial up and not down.
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