The body and how we age – we can’t stop it, but we can improve it!
We are living in a world that’s facing rising long term health conditions as we all get older.
A lot of these changes happen after the age of 30 and they compound over time!!
The good news – exercise and modified lifestyle factors can help ward off some of those signs of ageing. Whoop whoop 🌟
Here are 7 changes to the body as we age:
- Ageing bones / Osteoporosis – As we age our bone mass density changes, we can improve this with exercise if we move more, especially with weight bearing exercise. Once we hit the age of about 30, our bones start to become thinner and lighter and less effective at absorbing impact and therefore they become more prone to fracture.
As we age the amount of elastin in our joints and across the whole body decreases and we get more collagen. Elastin are the protein fibres that create the stretchiness of joints and the connective fibres around joints). Collagen is the protein fibre with high tensile strength, its much stiffer and firmer. As we age, no matter how much exercise we do, we will have less elastin and more collagen.
Our feelings of stiffness and aches and pains can be linked to this and it’s a normal part of ageing – sadly!
We also produce less synovial fluid around certain joints and it becomes thicker and more viscous inside the synovial capsule so in turn we become less flexible. When we move as we get older it takes longer to warm the fluid up and soften it so you’ll feel your joint much more.
Muscular changes also happen with age. It’s normal to expect a loss of muscle mass, strength and function – known as sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia happens as a result of ageing, but also sometime because of physical inactivity, chronic conditions, smoking, poor diet and endocrine balances (your hormones).
Regular exercise can prevent muscular wastage, especially resistance training which can reverse the effect of muscular ageing in the bodies.
Our lungs reach full maturity by the age of 20- 25yrs old. They start to decline from about 35 yrs old in terms of function. This includes a lot of different anatomical changes such as the tissue not being able to contract as well and or have as much circulation through it – regardless of our fitness levels!!
- Heart & Circulatory system
Increasing studies show many of the structural and functional changes that happen with age for cardiovascular health can be negated through modification of lifestyle factors. YEAH!! Increased thickening of some of the fibres inside the heart means less ability for the blood to flow in the arteries which affects blood pressure and the ability to control it.
- Neurological changes
Normal ageing doesn’t have a devastating effect on our memories or personalities.
Memory loss is usually a result of a condition like early onset dementia. However, the condition is much more prevalent in older populations which is why it is linked.
It could be related to when we retire as we don’t use our brains as much. We don’t process information or learn as much so there is some cognitive decline from lack of use rather than the fact we are ageing.
- Physical abilities and functional capabilities.
These might start off with something simple like not being able to carry shopping, open a can of beans, take a shower or do the gardening. These can lead on to other problems. EG:
- inability to cook a healthy meal can lead to malnutrition
- inability to walk or get dressed can lead to social isolation
- inability to leave the house can lead to less vitamin D
In summary, regular exercise and modified lifestyle factors can help us age better.