Yesterday, whilst walking in the park near my house I saw two elderly people exercising. I found that one of them was more active than I have ever been whilst the other was struggling shortly after beginning. Seeing this compelled me to wonder the extent of how the body wears with age.
A fit body, even at age sixty, can only be attained by maintaining an active lifestyle. Our body does not improve by lazing around, we need to be active. Though one cannot completely escape sarcopenia which is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass quality and strength associated with aging, it is possible – even at the age of 65 – to maintain 90% of the muscle mass you had when you were 20 or 30. But that’s only when you balance work and fitness from an early age.
If you are between the ages of 50 and 65 and are reading this right now, don’t panic. You can still rejuvenate your physique. Yes, you can still hit the rocky-mountains or the arena. How? Pamper your body, not by lazing around or eating junk food, but by adopting healthy eating habits and regular exercise. Because the good news is that even a 65 year old person with a quasi-sedentary lifestyle can maintain 70% of muscle mass and strength that they had when they were 20-30 by following a steady exercise schedule. Exercise can be invigorating and helps build muscle mass at any age.
Understand your body
It is necessary to understand how every part of the body works towards degeneration and revitalization. Don’t let even the tiny disorders detected in your body slip away. Know the reason of the ailment and fix it at the earliest opportunities. Here are some probable maladies you might face if you are in your sixties:
- Lower heart stroke volume: Lower heart rate and stroke volume causes stiffening of muscles because the heart is unable to circulate enough oxygen to the muscles. You can fix this problem by hiking or exercising because it stimulates the Frank-Starling mechanism which in-turn increases heart-stroke volume. Eat food containing vitamin K.
- Decrease in oxygen consumption: As we get older our muscles fail to utilise as much oxygen per minute as it did when we are young. The muscles use about 10% less oxygen now and even 30% less if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. An intense work out of 10-15 minutes multiple times a week can help older adults to emerge from this problem quicker than you might think.
- Weaker bones: Bones tend to decrease in density as we age, and for some individuals, it can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease of low bone density that can contribute to an increased risk of fracture. Weight lifting or even just walking, can increase bone density. The reason is that weight lifting causes stress on the bones as the muscles contract which causes the bones to thicken, and walking also causes stress on the bones, which stimulates them to grow. Increase the intake of vitamin D and calcium for healthy muscles.
- Feeble muscles: We lose 10% of our total muscle fibre per decade after the age of fifty especially when we don’t follow an active lifestyle. To gain muscle fibre back avoid sitting still. Keep your muscles moving, by training and exercising multiple times a week to strengthen your muscles and improve your fitness.
I don't think anyone can argue with the idea that exercise is good for you, no matter what your age, and importantly, that it's never too late to start. Exercise of any sort: walking, running, hiking, weight lifting – combined with a healthy diet – is beneficial when you know what your body needs. Experience the joy and satisfaction of exercise. Just getting started will do it. Go ahead and give it your best shot. You deserve it.