Am I too old to learn something physically challenging?
Learning new skills and activities can feel overwhelming for an older adult. I know that beginning horseback riding lessons about 9 months ago was a mix of scary and wonderful. I worried that my body just wouldn’t adapt to something so new. I worried about injury.
I am going to continue with my riding lessons with more confidence than I started them. This is partly because I have learned some things about scheduling other workout activities, as well as enough about horses to think this is doable. Here are my tips for the older athlete who wants to pursue such a new and physically interactive activity:
- Make sure you have a foundation of physical strength. Consider cross training that will particularly strengthen muscles that will be needed for action and stability for the new activity you want to try.
- Don’t schedule other rigorous activities the day before or the day after. For instance, I can still go on a short to medium run either before or after, but not a run that is at the upper limits of my current distance.
- Rest your mind before a lesson. Learning something new takes a different level of concentration and awareness, both to avoid injury and to learn well.
- Get enough sleep. This goes with #3. If you are physically tired, your mind tends to be slower. Also, you tend to have less physical strength to use as needed.
- Talk to other older athletes that pursue said activity. It can be helpful to get a mix of those with long experience and those relatively new to trying.
I write more specifics about how to have a good experience learning to ride a horse at my age in Am I Too Old to Learn to Ride a Horse, over at the D&B Supply blog. As older athletes, it can be embarrassing to feel awkward at learning something new, but it is good for us in many ways. Don’t let your fears or the attitudes of others keep you from enjoying continued discovery in life!