Since retiring 22 years ago, I have been riding my bike daily, year ‘round and averaging 5,000 to 6,000 miles per year, or a little over 100 miles a week.
I feel that the daily riding along with my other activities and dietary habits keeps me reasonably healthy. Clearly, at 82 I still have full mobility.
About a month ago I found that after my morning ride of around 15 miles, I would have breakfast, walk the dog and then have to take a nap. The nap was brand new, particularly at 10:00 a.m.(!)
I have no problem about napping – at 3:00 p.m. I have done that on occasion for years and find it relaxing and refreshing.
But, the 10:00 a.m. thing freaked me out. Here is where the sense of context comes in. I have no one close to my age who is athletic to talk about that with. I don’t believe a 10:00 a.m. nap is normal or healthy.
So, I called my doctor and discussed it with her. She suggested I come in for a physical exam and a full workup of blood work.
I did as she suggested and when the blood work came back it showed – nothing was wrong with me.
Because of my writing this blog for more than a decade, I am familiar with finding medical information on the web. But, after my doctor gave me a clean bill of health, I didn’t have much in the way of positive expectations. Case studies are fine, but there aren’t many case studies of 80-plus year old athletes to base them on.
On the second day of my quest, I came upon a single paragraph that put my problem into the proper context.
“According to the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, research suggests that older muscles tend to recover more slowly after exercise. And, in a 2016 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, older triathletes experienced slower protein synthesis—the process in which the muscle cells regenerate—than younger athletes.”
So, it appears that my 82-year-old body can’t synthesize protein as well as it did when I retired.
I am working on a solution to the problem. I realize that I need to scale back on my biking. I can start taking a day off each week. Up until now I have ridden about 350 of the year’s 365 days. So, missing one would cut out about 14% of the wear and tear on my body each week and allow it to synthesize protein at its slower pace.
At this point, I have chosen to go a different route, I am scaling back on my daily rides. Instead of shooting for 20 to 25 miles a day, I have put a 20 mile limit on it. That way I can still have the fun of a daily bike ride and reduce my energy output by 20%. For the record, while I enjoy the physiological benefits from my bike riding, that fact is that I love to ride and don’t want to spend a day without biking. I have the exact same enjoyment today as I did when I was 10-years-old and pedaled my bike down Madison Street in Chicago. I love flying across the pavement on two wheels.
Clearly, this is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions, I would be happy to learn them. And, yes, if you were wondering, I did pass that info along to my doctor.
4 responses to “On being 82 years old …”
If the 10am nap is not interfering with the rest of your day, and is enabling your body to recover faster, is it a bad thing? No harm? I don’t know though, I’m exactly half your age!
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I think it is a bad thing. My body can not recuperate without a nap. To me that means I am overdoing the exercise – for my 82-year-old body. So, I have to accommodate it by cutting back on my energy demands.
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I enjoy reading your blog every day and look forward to your posts. I will be 72 this August. This past year I have noticed memory problems that may be COVID related or something else.
Your blog is helpful and and I appreciate your information on the various topics. Thank you for writing it 🫂
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Thanks for your kind words. Some ‘memory’ problems can be solved by ‘paying attention.’ I used to ‘forget’ where I put my keys. Now, I make it a point to leave them on my dresser every time, so I always know where they are. With other, less regular, things, make it a point to ‘think about’ what you are doing, so you can recall it later. For example with keys,don’t just throw them down and go about your business. Realize and visualize what you are doing with them. Sometimes what appears to be a ‘memory’ problem is really just a lack of paying attention to what you are doing.