Healthy Ageing

Healthy Ageing, CrossFit and Lifestyle

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer.
Founder and Head Coach
Healthy Ageing is not just for old people. It is about maintaining and improving the quality of life for as long as possible. It is about maintaining and increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains throughout life. It is CrossFit. By doing CrossFit and living a healthy lifestyle, we can slow down the process of ageing and get healthier, stronger and fitter as we age.

What is Healthy Ageing?

Healthy Ageing means ageing healthy, happy and staying socially active as we grow older, thanks to a lifestyle that is well adjusted to the changing necessities that come with ageing.

Every phase in life has specific needs in exercise, nutrition and  relaxation. For example, masters (in CrossFit defined as athletes from the age of 35) need less food than youngsters as their metabolism slows down. Because of that, the importance of high quality food becomes more significant. At the same time, for masters more effort is needed to maintain muscle mass and stamina than youngsters. (You need more strength training and protein than you think)

In addition, in the course of the years the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression increase. For women, menopause plays a major role. (CrossFit, a cure for menopause). Physical, mental and emotional well-being changes as we get older, as a result of hormonal and chemical changes in the body and due to life experiences. These changing necessities in life require adjustments in nutrition, and smarter ways of exercising and relaxing in order to age in a physical, mental and emotional healthy way.

Why is Healthy Ageing important?

Healthy Ageing is a relatively new concept. Research institutes, business firms and civil society organizations are increasingly working together to develop more insights on Healthy Ageing. Yet the importance of Healthy Ageing is often underestimated. Anno 2024, The Netherlands has over 7 million people aged 50 or older. That number is expected to  increase in the upcoming years. At the same time there are fewer young people to take care of these seniors. Therefore, it’s important to age healthy and happy and to participate in employment and social activities for as long as possible. (Unhealthy living is an emergency in slow motion).

Healthy Ageing starts before birth

Ageing is inevitable. This process already starts at the age of 25. But healthy ageing starts even earlier; before conception! With parents who pass on their genes and with it the risks and opportunities for a healthy life course or the occurrence of illness later in life. Also, the lifestyle habits of the mother-to-be will effect the health of the unborn child. Read more about why Healthy ageing starts before birth and How parents can complicatie Healthy Ageing for children.

From birth, parents lay the foundation for their childrens' lifestyle. After all, they are generally responsible for the food supply at home. Especially with young children they determine what and how much they eat and exercise. Moreover, they will set an example for a healthy lifestyle: The parents set the standard for the child. Read more about How parents can become a perfect role model for their children.

Although peers play a greater role in puberty than parents, and unhealthy habits can always emerge along the way, adolescents who have a healthy lifestyle from an early age and are encouraged to do so by their parents, are also more likely to maintain this at a later age.

Healthy lifestyle is prevention and cure

The environment we live in and our lifestyle both influence the development of health and the degree to which we age healthy. Living in a poor neighborhood with many fast-food restaurants, little safe options to go outside and lots of social problems, can negatively affect our physical and mental health and decrease the chance of ageing healthy.

For example: The food we eat not only influences our physical condition, such as the condition of our heart and blood vessels, but also our mental health. Malnutrition such as a lack of vitamin D, is correlated to mental health issues. Also, a lack of exercise negatively affects our health and in order to stay physically and mentally fit throughout life, we need to exercise on a daily basis. Read more about the relation between your food, your brain and healthy ageing.

A healthy lifestyle can decrease the risk of chronic diseases that effect life span such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression up to 50%. It can even cure type 2 diabetes. Healthy Ageing is prevention as well as cure.

Positive mindset

Accepting the physical, mental and emotional changes we go through as we age, creates space to make smarter choices to stay healthy and fit throughout life. “Train smarter, not harder” is a good example.

Ignoring, denying and getting frustrated that you cannot do at the age of 45 what you could at the age of 25, is not helpful. On the other hand, thinking you are doomed for disaster at 45 does not work either.

And, this simply not true! We are capable of doing great thing even at a very high age. At least, if we stay physically and mentally active, keep enjoying life and take good cate of ourselves. But maybe the most important aspect is mindset. Believe in yourself and think: I can and I will! Read more about Mental toughness.

CrossFit rewrites the script of ageing

Ageing is inevitable. There are age- related physiological, psychological and neurological changes that effect everyone. Changes in the body and brain, such as a decreased insulin sensibility, more susceptibility to illness, decrease in muscle function and reduced oxygen uptake, less coordination and balance, but also changes in personality and emotional wellbeing.

The impact of these changes varies from person to person. According to the CrossFit philosophy, lifestyle is the most important factor that determines whether these changes result in functional decline. This means we can minimize the degree to which age-based changes limit our lives by living a healthy lifestyle. We can rewrite the traditional script of ageing.

Healthy Ageing is about maintaining and improving the quality of life for as long as possible. It is about maintaining and increasing work capacity across broad time and modal domains throughout life. That is CrossFit.


CrossFit busts the myths of ageing

Myths around ageing can result in self-fulfilling prophecies and obstacles that hold us back from an active lifestyle. We  discuss and bust some of these myths:

Myth 1. Older athletes cannot get stronger or improve their physical capacity

According to the CrossFit view of ageing, strength and muscle mass do not decline with age but rather with inactivity. You can get stronger and significantly improve your capacity if you do resistance training frequently, properly, and consistently Read our article about CrossFit when you are over 30.

Myth 2. Older athletes should not train at high intensity

Intensity is most commonly associated with maximizing rate of return in favorable adaptation. This means: intensity is the pathway to results, independent of age. The misconception is that an older person is at higher risk if they train at high intensity, and that moderate training would be better. According to the CrossFit view of ageing, it is not about training at moderate intensity (taking it easy), but about training at relative intensity. Relative intensity means working to the boundary of physical and psychological tolerance and not beyond. The risk of training at high intensity is much more related to the condition of person, than to their age. A deconditioned youngster might be at higher risk than a fit master. And a person who trains irregularly is at higher risk than someone who trains regularly. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account medical conditions and physical and mental impairments and modify the training program accordingly. But that goes for older as well as for younger people. (CrossFit and injuries: the red flags).

Myth  3. Older athletes need a simpler training program and avoid high skill  training, gymnastics and weightlifting

One of the age- related changes that effect everyone are the neurological ones, such as coordination and balance. Therefore, learning neurological skills is extremely important to slow down the process of ageing. With gymnastics and weightlifting these skills are challenges and with the appropriate modifications, any person can learn it.

Myth  4. Older athletes cannot train hard because they have diminished time to recover

According to the CrossFit view of ageing, lifestyle factors are a much more important factor is the time it takes to recover from a workout, than age is. Such as: lack of sleep, insufficient nutrition, too much stress and lack of active recovery techniques. Yet, older athletes need to keep in mind that they need to invest more in those lifestyle factors and in recovery, compared to younger athletes for whom a less optimal lifestyle has less impact on their performance. Older athletes should focus more on high quality work and less on volume: train smarter, not harder or more.

CrossFit as fountain of youth

According to the CrossFit model of ageing, older athletes who train constantly varied functional movements at high intensity,regularly, properly and consistently, have on average better health markers than their inactive peers. They have lower blood pressure, better cardiorespiratory functioning, more strength and muscle mass, better bone density, more mobility and better brain function. They live longer and have a higher quality of life. They are slowing down the process of ageing by doing CrossFit. Under the condition that they stay active, no matter what, despite  illness or injury!


CrossFit Eudokia: Lifestyle coaching in Healthy Ageing

CrossFit Eudokia in Rotterdam is one of the few specialists in Healthy Ageing in The Netherlands, also accredited by the Dutch professional aassociation of Lifestyle Coaches and accredited by the Dutch professional association of health and fitness as Prevention Center for coaching sports to people with an injury and chronic (lifestyle- related disease.

The concept of Healthy Ageing is relatively new and part of lifestyle medicine: early prevention rather than cure. It is aligned with the latest scientific vision on health, called Positive Health. Health is considered a  dynamic concept in which taking control over your life and developing the strength and power to do so, are key points. It is about resilience and adaptability to all the challenges life throws at you.

Health is considered to be much more than solely the  presence or absence of physical or mental problems or illnesses. Positive Health has six dimensions: physical and mental wellbeing, daily functioning iand social and societal participation, and the quality and meaning of life. This aligns with CrossFit’s vision on health: maintaining and increasing work capacity across  broad time and modal domains throughout life.





Lifestyle Coaching in Healthy Ageing is about taking control of your life and about developing the power to improve the quality of your life.

At CrossFit Eudokia, we teach you about the specific necessities in nutrition, exercise and relaxation that fit your life phase and about the changing necessities to come during your life. Our coaching is aimed at how you can take control over your life and ageing process and create your own health.

Starting point is that you are the expert on your life.

Create your own health!©


This  article is based on the CrossFit Specialty Course: Masters Training Guide (2017) and information from a broad variety of scientific sources among which; the Institute for Positive Health (2020); the curriculum Health Psychology Open University Netherlands (2020); Leyden Academy of Vitality and  Ageing (2018) and the World Health Organization on healthy ageing.