Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mid-Life Strategies for Male Athletes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mid-Life Strategies for Male Athletes

Article excerpt

Today's revelation for guys turning 40: Most players in the National Football League are about 10 to 15 years younger than you.

It's enough to make a 40-year-old guy feel too deflated to watch -- or, taking a more positive outlook, take a lesson from those NFL players who do manage to play beyond their early 30s.

Quarterback John Elway, now retired, has been the prime example. He led the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl victories despite being on the other side of 35 and with all of those defensive players chasing and tackling him. He even worked through shoulder problems and a torn biceps in his throwing arm.

How can that be, when three sets of tennis or playing with young children for an afternoon can make most guys sore enough to retreat to the couch for Monday Night Football rather than fix the window sash?

Curtis Pesmen, author of When a Man Turns Forty: The Ultimate Mid-Life Manual (Rodale Press, $19.95), decided to find out. He visited the office of Steve Antonopulos, head athletic trainer for the Broncos. Here's what Antonopulos advised the 40-something weekend athlete:

"No. 1, your metabolism changes. So what you ate at age 20 and got away with won't work in your late 30s and beyond."

Antonopulos said maintaining the flexibility in your joints -- measured by range of motion on weight machines -- is an important part of what he calls "joint integrity." His goal is to have players performing at the highest level, free of injury and not having to compensate for chronic pain due to overuse of the joints or muscular weakness and imbalance.

"The most revealing thing was his emphasis on stabilizing the lower back and torso," said Pesmen, 41, author of three other books, including Your First Year of Marriage (Fireside, $12). "He said the correct form of abdominal crunches is more important than how many you do."

Another idea: Do a "reverse fly" weight exercise in which you lie face down on a bench with 10-pound dumbbells in each hand, then lift the arms until the weight is parallel with the floor. Two sets of 10 to 15 twice each week will strengthen back muscles. …

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