A few years ago (Feb 2007) there was an interesting documentary on the BBC about the growing popularity of bodybuilding amongst pensioners in the UK and USA. We were reminded of this story after hearing how the 73 year old Anthony Hopkins lost 80 pounds. Although he did not lose weight by bodybuilding, he is living proof that you are never too late to lose weight and get fit.
Bodbuilding has many health benefits. Senior citizens that perform regular weight bearing exercise have greater flexibility, strength and balance and are less prone to accidents. Also exercise keeps the mind healthy, so bodybuilding can help you stay mentally alert.
Unlike many other types of exercise weight training can be performed slowly which reduces the risk of developing injury.
The documentary, which was called Bodybuilding Pensioners, looked at the world of the senior citizen bodybuilding. The pensioners that featured in the show lived for their bodybuilding and the ultimate prize of a youthful body. Many of the people questioned said that they felt younger and more alert as a result of their new hobby.
Rigorous Training and Strict Diets
Bodybuilding is all about rigorous weight training workouts and strict diets which are high in protein and low in sugar. Many senior bodybuilders enter bodybuilding contests each year and train extremely hard to be in perfect shape for the competition day.
Many of the pensioners claimed their youthful looks were down to their bodybuilding routines. The body building competitions they enter are in categories of over 60 years and over 70 years. The dedication of these bodybuilders is quite remarkable. Many put it down to simply having the time to dedicate their days to working out.
Bodybuilding Demands Time
Bodybuilding is a very time consuming pastime, and many working people find it difficult to maintain the exercise regime and bodybuilding diet that is required. Before competitions a very restrictive diet is needed to reduce fat reserves as much as possible, and it is almost impossible for working people to maintain a job while training in this way.
Bodybuilding has some great health benefits for the older population, as it improved blood flow, bone density and stability. People that do weight training and bodybuilding into old age experience much greater freedom and independence than other people.
One female US pensioner mentioned that she could continue to move her own furniture and wash her own windows as a result of her improved physical fitness – things which many of her neighbours struggle with. Many people feel some part of their youth has returned to them after training.
So there is really no excuse for not exercising into old age. Get out the fake tan and pump some iron, and you could be Mr or Mrs Universe in a few years time. However, there are less competitive options for senior citizen exercise available.
World’s Oldest Competing Bodybuilder
This video features 80 year old Australian competitive bodybuilder Ray Moon. He started bodybuilding at the age of 75 and says that bodybuilding makes him feel young again. And he has not always been in the best of health, having suffered from polio, open heart surgery, a couple of minor strokes, a twisted bowel and had a heart attack. He now sports a pace maker.
He trains for 2 1/2 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week and also walks 4km (2.5 miles) a day. He gets through a lot of protein shakes, eats tuna, muesli for breakfast, steaks and fresh fish. He says that protein is most important. It is important to note that not everyone of his age can train to this level.