Another Year Older And ……
Getting older is all part of life. I gladly will take the wisdom that comes from getting older. But, the whole idea of aging gracefully is for the birds. I for one, want to be as healthy and strong as I can be as I age. I want to be able to participate in life, travel and enjoy being active for a long time to come. That means being aware of changes that occur naturally as we age and then taking steps necessary to ensure that my body remains strong, healthy and vital.
Here are just a couple of stats to get us started:
A major fraction of total daily energy demand arises from resting metabolism, and it is thus important to note that resting metabolism decreases with aging, by about 10% from early adulthood to the age of retirement, and a further 10% subsequently. Food intake must be correspondingly adjusted if body fat is not to increase further.
Strength peaks around 25 years of age, plateaus through 35 or 40 years of age, and then shows an accelerating decline, with 25% loss of peak force by the age of 65 years. Muscle strength can be greatly improved by as little as 8 weeks of resisted training
Over the span of working life, adults lose some 8-10 cm of lower-back and hip flexibility.
Now let’s take a look at some of the individual body systems to see how age affects us:
Over time, your heart muscle becomes less efficient, working harder to pump the same amount of blood through your body. In addition, your blood vessels lose elasticity. Hardened fatty deposits may form on the inner walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis), narrowing the vessels. With both of these factors present, the arteries become stiffer. This causes your heart to work much harder and can lead to high blood pressure.
Fix: lifestyle – watch your diet. Limited saturated fats; eat plenty of lean protein and vegetables. Watch your sodium intake and ensure adequate daily exercise.
Bones, muscles and joints
Your bones reach their maximum mass between ages 25 and 35. As you age, your bones shrink in size and density. One consequence is that you might become shorter. Gradual loss of density weakens your bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture. Muscles, tendons and joints generally lose some strength and flexibility as you age.
Fix: Pick up the weights! Make sure you include exercises that are weight bearing.
Brain and nervous system
The number of cells (neurons) in your brain decreases with age, and your memory becomes less efficient. However, in some areas of your brain, the number of connections between the cells increases, perhaps helping to compensate for the aging neurons and maintain brain function. Your reflexes tend to become slower. You also tend to become less coordinated and may have difficulty with balance.
Fix: Keep your brain active – puzzles, crosswords for example are great exercises for the brain. Also, once again exercise and specifically weight training will help keep you strong, improve muscle/mind coordination and if you include a balance component in your overall exercise program, this will go a long way to preventing difficulties with balance and possibly leading to life threatening falls as you get older.
Kidneys, bladder and urinary tract
With age, your kidneys become less efficient in removing waste from your bloodstream. Chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure and some medications can damage your kidneys further.
Fix: Change your lifestyle if you haven’t already! Maintain a healthy weight. Drink plenty of water daily. As stated above, nutrition is important to prevent diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Exercise daily.
As you age, maintaining a healthy weight — or losing weight if you’re overweight — may be more difficult. Your metabolism generally slows, meaning that your body burns fewer calories. Calories that were once used to meet your daily energy needs instead are stored as fat. Your level of activity may decrease, resulting in unwanted weight gain.
Fix: Get out there and get moving. Include a strength training workout in your overall fitness program at least 2-3 times per week. Increase your ratio of lean muscle.
Shephard, R.J. (1998). Aging and Exercise. In: Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, T.D.Fahey (Editor). Internet Society for Sport Science: http://sportsci.org. 7 March 1998.
Till Next Time,
“Monitoring, Mentoring, Motivation”