The human body is an intricate machine designed for movement. It's fascinating how our bodies change over time, both positively with acquired knowledge and experiences as well as physically through the inevitable process of aging. However, the way we age isn't uniform. Our lifestyle choices, especially those concerning our physical activity, greatly influences the direction of our health as we age. In this post, we'll explore the effects of age on our bodies and the critical role exercise plays in counteracting these changes.
How Age Affects Our Bodies
Bone Density Decline: Bones are living tissues, and as with every living thing, they undergo life cycles. As we age, particularly after the age of 30, the rate at which our bones renew begins to slow down. This can lead to a reduction in bone density, making them more susceptible to fractures.
Muscle Loss: Starting in our 30s, we can lose between 3% to 5% of our muscle mass each decade if we remain inactive. Known as sarcopenia, this process can lead to frailty, weakness, and reduced metabolism.
Loss of Functional Abilities: Reduced bone density and muscle loss combine to hinder our day-to-day functional capabilities. This means simple tasks like carrying groceries, climbing stairs, or even maintaining balance become challenges.
Exercise: The Elixir of Youth
1. For Bones: Exercise, especially weight-bearing activities, stimulates bone-forming cells. This is akin to how muscle resistance causes muscles to grow. Activities like walking, jogging, tennis, and dancing can significantly improve bone density.
Tip: Incorporate weight-bearing exercises into your routine at least three times a week. If new to exercise, consult with a physical therapist for guidance.
2. For Muscles: Strength training exercises, even light weights or resistance bands, can prevent and even reverse muscle loss. Consistent training stimulates muscle protein synthesis, maintaining muscle strength and mass.
Tip: Incorporate strength training two or more days a week, targeting all major muscle groups.
3. For Function: Functional exercises mimic everyday activities. These exercises can help in maintaining independence, improving balance, and reducing the risk of falls.
Tip: Incorporate functional movements such as squats, lunges, and push-ups. Pilates and yoga can also help with balance and core strength.
Embracing an active lifestyle is not about chasing youth but preserving the quality of life. The natural progression of aging is a reality, but how we age is, to a significant extent, in our hands. Exercise serves as a catalyst for maintaining health and vigor, even as the years go by.
Consider seeking guidance from a physical therapist. They can provide personalized plans that cater to your unique needs and goals. Remember, it's never too late to start. Whether you're in your 30s, 60s, or beyond, the right exercise can pave the way for healthier, more vibrant golden years.
If you're interested in getting more active, yet you're not sure which direction to go, please don't hesitate to reach out to us here at 4th Corner Performance & Therapeutic Concepts, PLLC. We'd love the opportunity to be in your corner!