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Can a 55 Year Old Have More Energy Than a 20 Year Old?

Alexandra Williams, MA

I am 55. My university students are about 20. After my 8 a.m. cardio class last week, one of my students asked me how I had so much energy. What do you think I gave as my answer?

Alexandra teaching Drums Alive

Teaching Drums Alive

After I gave my response, I walked back into the gym and taught two more classes – one Drums Alive ; one strength training on the ball. Once I was done teaching, I started thinking further about her question. Although it was really probably a compliment with no answer expected, I did ponder it as a sort of research question. You know, in an anecdotal sense, as I haven’t done any research on myself (trying two cigarettes in 7th grade sort of counts as self-research I guess. I smoked the wrong end, as we were hiding in a dark basement, so couldn’t see. Turned it around, inhaled deeply, almost died from coughing. End of smoking career).

First, the answers I rejected as to the genesis of my energy:

* Genetically gifted
* Good luck
* Students are super listless, so I look energetic by comparison (though they do look a bit like pale vampires peaked during mid-terms)
* I’m bionic
* Energizer batteries shoved up my … nope, that’s not it
* Optical illusion due to room lighting
* Crowd hypnosis
* Lots of caffeine (hahahah. I drink decaf coffee every few weeks, and think soda is evil)

Want to know what I told her? Three words: Exercise, Nutrition, and Willingness

Exercise

Lizard's Mouth with Tamara Grand

Working at our over-40 Fitness with Tamara Grand

Most non-exercisers will think, “Hey, wait just a sec. Exercise makes you tired, not energized. W.R.O.N.G. That is short-term thinking. In the long run (and 55 is the long run, I assure you), the cardiovascular system becomes more efficient when it is challenged with exercise. I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, plus I danced and played soccer before that, so even when I had anemia in my 20s, I still had lots of energy. This post we wrote with 7 of the top reasons people exercise will enlighten you. And this other post with the other top 7 reasons will make you smile. Or so we hope.

Nutrition

It’s probably an unfair match-up between my eating habits and my university students’ because they are part of a demographic famous for eating (to say it delicately) crap. I require them to eat a healthy breakfast, yet I don’t actually monitor their personal lives, nor am I all that sure that their definition of “healthy” matches mine, though I do nag give them friendly advice about what constitutes a suitable breakfast prior to working out.
In our radio interview with personal trainer, author, and biologist Tamara Grand you can hear her excellent advice about clean eating for women over 40 (though her advice works for all ages).

I have taken her “tough love” advice about no longer being able to eat as I did in my younger years (due in part to estrogen and other hormones).

Willingness

What the heck does this have to do with energy, and what do I mean by willingness? I really just mean attitude and being willing to do what it takes to be healthy and fit. I am not a of fan of the word “willpower” when it comes to moving and eating for health because it’s too easy to feel it’s a battle, and I don’t want to fight with myself. Trying to think succinctly, I’d say that I am pretty good at “If / Then” decisions. For example, I walk a lot. And when I walk I don’t actually like to sweat. But I think, “If I walk up the mountain road road for an hour, then I’ll have done my 10,000 steps (my daily goal) for the day.” Or “If I choose not to eat cookies or ice cream when I crave an evening snack, then I’ll be that much closer to my weight goal.” I think of the choices, then make conscious decisions. I essentially have a bargain with myself. Luckily, most of my bargains lead to a happy, energetic resolution!

picture of Alexandra being goofy

Take That, Age Assumptions!

I’m tempted to say, “Suck it, youngsters,” but I like my youngsters, and was once one myself. So I think I’ll just say, “Try to keep up. Maybe by the time you reach 55, you’ll have lots of energy too!”

For those of you above 40 (or know someone who is), do you have more energy now than you did then?

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll gain lots of energy when you subscribe to our blog and listen to our radio show. Experience some of the best leaders in the health, wellness, and fitness world every Wednesday morning at 8:00 PT/ 11:00am ET. Listen in (better yet, call in to 866-472-5792) to our new radio show Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers with guests who offer practical advice and cutting edge solutions to your active aging challenges. You’ll find us at voiceamerica.com on the Health and Wellness channel.

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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22 Responses to Can a 55 Year Old Have More Energy Than a 20 Year Old?

  1. Carol Cassara May 5, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    My belief is that it’s mostly attitude, unless there is some dread disease going on. Attitude plays a huge role in every single thing, that’s so clear to me, anyway.
    Carol Cassara recently posted..Easy, healthy lemon chickenMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit May 5, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      My belief is that you’re right, though I have seen that my students are less fit than 10 years ago. I blame the dearth of P.E. in the schools. So by the time they get to my U class, they have a lot of catching up to do. Yet just by enrolling, they are showing a willingness to try.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..5 Foods to Eat to Defy Your Age (And 5 to Avoid)My Profile

  2. GiGi Eats Celebrities May 5, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Oh heck ya! My mom hikes extreme terrane for 2+ hours EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! That lady is DYNAMOOOOO!!
    GiGi Eats Celebrities recently posted..Serving Up Flex Tacos and Key Lime Pie Man-garitasMy Profile

  3. Yum Yucky May 5, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    When I first saw you in that pic, I thought you were holding swords in your hands… but you’re not. I’m obviously very disappointed.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Skechers GO Fit Sneakers (you’re gonna wanna see these!)My Profile

  4. Debbie @ Live from La Quinta May 5, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    I definitely have more energy now at 56 than I did when I was younger (at least before I changed by lifestyle). Of course, college students frequently burn the candle at both ends, staying up late either with homework and/or partying, then getting up early for classes, so they might feel that they have no energy for healthy things like exercise. I, on the other hand, freely admit that I have no energy for partying or staying up late.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Stop the Negative Self Talk! 5 Tips to Turn It Around and Improve PerformanceMy Profile

  5. Tamara May 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    I love that photo of the three of us! We look very happy and fit!
    Is it wrong that I secretly love to kick 20-year old butt in my group fitness classes? :)
    Tamara recently posted..Favorite squat variationsMy Profile

  6. Jody - Fit at 56 May 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Yes, yes & yes!!!!!! Right on the money!!! You have to stay active, eat well, be willing to put in the time, keep at it, consistency & all that great stuff! We rock!!!!!
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted..Gratitude Monday & Simple Things in LifeMy Profile

  7. Chloe Jeffreys May 5, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    I bet you take far better care of yourself than your 20yo students do. Young people take their health and youth for granted whereas you and I know that it could all be gone in an instant from an accident or unexpected health problem.

    Fitness is the fountain of youth. I believe it.
    Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..Creating the Life You WantMy Profile

  8. Bharat May 6, 2014 at 3:24 am #

    You’re 100% right Exercise, Nutrition, and Willingness that makes the difference for you. If you continue to eat right and do exercise then you can live healthy life and easily avoid various diseases.
    Bharat recently posted..Fortis Foundation Rural Health Care SystemMy Profile

  9. Lydia Amaya May 6, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    1000% correct! All of the above. I’m going on 61 this summer and teaching/training since in my 30′s. I’ve also taught Drums Alive and boy oh boy! What a workout! Just opened up my own gym last year so it’s never too late to continue your passion! Just keep moving!

  10. Franny May 8, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    I know plenty of people in their 50s who are much healthier, happier and energetic than many people in their 30s. Like you said, it all comes down to your diet, exercise and attitude. Keep up the great work, it’s a brilliant read :)
    Franny recently posted..Popping Pills or Hitting the Gym?My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit May 11, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      Thank you for the kind words Franny. I know I am definitely more energetic and happy than in my 20s. Luckily, I’ve always been healthy!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Ease Out of StressMy Profile

  11. Diana June 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    As far as nutrition goes I strive to get as close to a 40-30-30 ( carbs, protein, fats) ratio as possible. If I stay pretty close to these ratios when I eat I have a lot more energy. Up the carbs and lower the protein, and my day is doomed LOL!
    Diana recently posted..Herbal Remedies for ADHD ChildrenMy Profile

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  1. Weekly Chronicles: Capitol Edition - May 11, 2014

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