Freediving over 40: How to keep in the game and thrive
by Errol Putigna - May 18th
For many, hitting the 40-year-old mark can be a milestone; Excited for a new decade, reflection on the previous decade, and finally, realizing the clock is still ticking … However you view it, it is a reality many freedivers and spearfishers come to. So how do you deal with it?
Well, there is no doubt your body is changing. Things won’t necessarily become easier but there is no reason things have to become more difficult. As your body changes, so should your lifestyle and habits. I believe every decade has its purpose. Partying until 4 in the morning is definitely not recommended for your 4th decade but it doesn’t mean you can’t have friendly gatherings over some fresh fish caught from the day before.
Here are some simple tips that I have found to help me profoundly in keeping up with the young guns and yet, keeping the slow decline of aging at bay.
Your diet becomes a priority. Don’t view it as an obligation. You won’t have any fun in the process. View it as an adventure to feed this new body you have received and you're trying to find harmony within it. I definitely stay away from any fast-food restaurants and greasy fried foods. They simply do not agree with me anymore and inflammation can be a real problem. I’m not a celiac but I have found gluten can contribute to inflammation of the joints and it can make me sluggish. I love bread, I just have to be more selective on which breads I eat.
Alcohol is another one. The days of the boozing it up were probably never good. Remember, many alcoholic beverages contain sugar and excessive drinking will definitely not give you an edge. If I had to pick one culprit as the enemy of aging, I’d say it’s sugar. I’m not saying you can’t have a cookie or a piece of birthday cake every now and then, but the amount of sugar available on any given day to eat is out of control. Keep your sweet tooth at bay and your drinks to a minimum and you’ll be sharper and healthier because of it.
Exercise is paramount. You don’t have to become a triathlete or an ultra runner but keeping your muscles and bones moving is key. Important at any age, relaxed and easy warm-ups are important to reduce the chances of injury. I personally enjoy running (5k - 10K) because it helps keep my head clear. I run anywhere from 3-5 times/week first thing in the morning before breakfast. Riding a bike or swimming will also do the trick. I also like calisthenics and stretching. The biggest excuse why people don’t stretch is, “I’m not flexible…”. No one cares how flexible you are. You’re not going to be joining Cirque Du Soleil anytime soon. The stretching is just to keep your muscles long and strong. Stick with it and you’ll see results. Slow and steady wins the race.
I definitely stay away from any heavy weights. 40 years old is no longer designed to lift heavy. Use your body weight and perhaps a little more weight than that at most. I love to do pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and air squats. Yoga and Pilates are fantastic too. They are full body workouts and I almost feel they were designed for the 4th decade of life! They’re awesome!
My most important exercise is conscious and mindful breathing. I take a few moments every morning, before exercise, to pause and focus on my breath. Breathe from your nose and focus it down to the diaphragmatic area. Breath light, allow the mind to relax and enjoy living in the now. This conscious breathing will help keep you sharp and tie all your efforts of exercising and eating right together. Remember conscious breathing is one of the greatest medicines we possess!
All of these suggestions I have made are my lifestyle. These are not a burden. I have embraced all these changes to honor my body as it evolves. The greatest news of all is freediving is a sport that welcomes age. Wisdom and mental discipline are key factors to being a successful freediver/spearfisher. I hope with these tips, you’ll keep in the game and enjoy the water and freediving for many years to come! Cheers!