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Golfer Colin Montgomerie gets more talented with age, and so can you

July 15, 2014

Some athletes lose their technique as they age. In Colin Montgomerie's case, his just got better. At 51 years old, he proved victorious at the Senior PGA Championship in May and just recently won the U.S. Open, making him the fifth golfer to win both tournaments in the same year since it began in 1980. The tournament went into playoffs where Montgomerie defeated his opponent Gene Sauers, extending the standard 18-hole game to 21.

Despite his claim to The Associated Press that his golf talent hasn't changed since the 1990s, prior to this year's Senior PGA, Montgomerie hadn't won any major tournament. This leaves people wondering: is it possible for athletes to become more talented with age? According to The New York Times, physiologists say it is.

Getting better as you get older
Some physiologists have claimed that the core abilities needed for high performance don't necessarily weaken as you get older. In fact, when you look at successful older athletes like Montgomerie, it seems as though they can strengthen. Aside from health reasons that may impact certain physical activities, there's no reason why endurance and skill can't continue to improve throughout an athlete's life.

Other cases reinforce this notion. University of Southern California exercise physiologist Steven Hawkins explained his study in The New York Times which showed some runners who had better times when they were 60 years old than they did a decade earlier. He also noted that the best marathon time for men 70 or older was set by a 74-year-old, and it was over four minutes faster than the winning marathon time at the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece, circa 1896.

Staying safe
Still, it's not recommended to overexert yourself. While performance can be top-notch and talent can be better than ever in old age, the risk for injury is much higher. Hawkins advised against a daily grueling workout and instead recommended that older athletes choose between intensity and frequency for a healthy aging workout regimen. 

Harvard University offered several safe exercise tips for seniors, like ensuring ample warm up and cool down time, hydrating sufficiently and wearing appropriate equipment. You should replace sneakers every six months, as the support weakens each time you wear them. Also, while some reports show that working out can fight off colds, the university recommends refraining from exercise when you're feeling ill or fatigued. Many assisted living communities offer activities that keep you active and safe, so see what's available at yours. As long as you consider these tips, you can start training and be on your way to winning a competition of your own.