I have been talking, writing, and in later years blogging about Fitness/Health and diet for over 30 years and while doing all this it has been fascinating watching my own body change. While I have always played sport, lifted weights and still challenge myself with the odd backpack bush walk, bike ride and adventure travel I find keeping myself in reasonable shape a lot harder these days. Recovery certainly takes longer and I must admit my enthusiasm has waned slightly when I attempt to pick up 50kg dumbbells for a chest press. It normally starts with a huge “SIGH” followed by a large “GROAN” as I lift myself off the bench….. Hahahah!!
I also must confess that I do have a slightly bulging stomach that must go!!!! So with all this in mind this article is to explain the ageing process and to some degree help show you how to slow down the decaying process, as we can’t slow ageing. It is true no matter how much we try to keep ourselves looking like a 25 year old Greek God or Goddess it is evitable despite the plastic surgery, breast implants, and liposuction that your best weapon against all this is still a healthy diet, regular exercise both aerobic and anaerobic (weight training) and a positive outlook with as many laughs along the way you can muster. Our lifestyle choices certainly do have an impact. Our bodies are made of fat, lean tissue, muscles, bones, water and as we mature (let’s say) these elements of our bodies alter and change. Just so we are all clear muscle doesn’t turn to fat!!!…. this is physiologically impossible as they are totally different cells.
Our bodies are definitely put through a series of changes every minute of every day.
It is called the ageing process and none of us get out alive!!!
Aging is an accumulation of biological changes over our entire life time. Literally billions of cells in our bodies are dynamic and constantly changing.
Some die, some are destroyed and at the same time new cells are formed literally every second. Our DNA is also impacted by exercise and exposure to social and environmental changes, such as food additives, chemicals, food preservatives, lack of activity both aerobically and anerobically all of course contribute to this.
Each and every year is an important event in our lives where we see our bodies age and slowly deteriorate. The aim of the game is to slow down this deteriorating process as we cannot stop ourselves ageing. (And apparently dying …go figure)
Aging sees us gain wrinkles, acquire liver spots, hair loss, muscle weakness, connective tissue damage, less flexibility, less range of movement and many other things, but it is much more than just all of these.
Aging is also a process related to physiological change. Our bodies respond in different ways to the stress we place on them.
Although aging can be seen externally by those around us….. there are a lot of internal effects of aging as well, which are most critical. As we get older it is important for all of us to know what to expect of our bodies particularly when we exercise.
Our Brain as We Age
The brain is the most complex part of the human body and the centre of our entire being It consists of different areas and various types of cell tissues that undergo structural changes.
Some sections of our brain regions shrink, while others remain stable as we age. Aging of the brain also impairs the ability of the brain in relation to speed and our reflexes and our reaction times slow up. Some older Australians are also susceptible to certain neurological diseases like Parkinson, and Alzheimer.
Our Bones as We Age.
Our bone strength gradually begins to decline. The friction between the joints increases as the lubrication is reduced which can cause pain and osteoarthritis when we try and exercise.
In fact moving is harder.
The bones also become porous and there is a gradual yet constant loss of density and strength. We can therefore expect to see more breaks in our seniors. Mineral depletion occurs as well and we see a decline in the calcium and phosphorus.
The loss causes bones to be more susceptible to these types of fractures. Of course we all know that exercise lessens the chances to fractures particularly hip and long bone fractures but it is important to be aware of how “WELL” our bones are. Getting a bone density test is a good idea.
I had a client who was 50 years old was over weight (very heavy in fact) and I held her hand as she stepped of a bosu ball. She twisted her ankle slightly ….she fell and she received two compound fractures of the tibia and fibula….
Now the ambulance arriving at my studio was not a good look…. I really couldn’t believe it. However after surgery and a bone scan … we could see she had severe osteoporosis….
You would have expected that a large lady would have had good bone density but she lost large amounts of Calcium during child birth many years earlier. This had added to her porous bone.
Our Heart as We Age
Blood vessels lose their elasticity and fatty deposition on the artery walls makes the arteries smaller and narrows down our vessels as a result of this blood flow to the heart slows down.
All these factors make the heart work harder than usual to pump blood to other parts of the body. Resulting for some…..experiencing hypertension, cardiac arrest, arteriosclerosis and other serious disorders.
“The process of aging is unavoidable, however the effects of which vary from person to person and so does its severity. Why we grow old is an enigma, but it is a universal truth which cannot be challenged, and there is no magic capsule or tablet invented yet…. to stop the process of ‘aging’” Written by IVYA BICHU
Although aging causes us to experience some aches , pains, some saggy bits, and some memory loss…….. it is true…. regular activity and certain types of exercise, flexibly routines and meditation techniques help us keep as healthy (both physically and mentally) in the best condition we can.
Ensuring stress is under control and taking good care of your body and brain can ensure a more active and less painful old age.
However by treating everyone as a commando and running boot camps will work for only the young, healthy and extremely fit individuals. The army does get away with this but you are dealing with young fit and medically checked individuals………..By doing this type of training you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Fat tissue may increase toward the center of the body, including around the abdominal organs. The amount of body fat may increase by as much as 40%.
As fat increases, lean body mass decreases. Your muscles, liver, kidney, and other organs may lose some of their cells. This process of muscle loss is called atrophy. Bones may lose some of their minerals and become less dense (osteopenia) which in its latest stage is better known as osteoporosis. Tissue loss also reduces the amount of water we store in our bodies as well. Most of us also become shorter due to disc compression. People can lose up to about 1 cm every 8-9 years after they hit about 45. Height loss is even greater after 70 years old. In total you may lose 50cm over your life time.
Physical activity, a proper diet, and treating osteoporosis can help reduce this condition.
Men often gain weight up until their mid 50s then begin to lose weight. This may be related to a reduction in male testosterone. Women usually gain weight until age 65, and then begin to lose weight. Weight loss is often caused by a loss of muscle tissue.
Of course, weight loss or gain varies from person to person, too. Diet and exercise play a large role in these changes.
Exercise is still your best option to prevent problems with the muscles, joints, and bones. A moderate exercise program can help you maintain strength and flexibility. Exercise helps the bones stay strong. You will find both in both men and woman that your strength will drop and the rest between exercise days will need to increase as recover will take longer.
A well-balanced diet with adequate amounts of calcium, fresh vegetables, fruit, grainy breads and lean meats are still the way to go however, it will be necessary to drop overall calories. Keep moving is the trick, avoiding high impact activity and using more passive exercise like walking, using your push-bike, tennis and lowering the weights when doing weight training. Stick to more of an endurance weight program with lighter weights. Ensure stretching is a daily activity as our connective tissues shorten.
By: John Hart
Master’s In Education” (Disability/Rehab) Newcastle University Australia
“Grad Cert Education” Newcastle University Australia
“Diploma of Sport and Recreation”
“Cert 4 Personal Training”
“Level 1 Strength and Conditioning Coach”
Member of ASCA (Australian Strength and Conditioning Association)