This article is for a friend of mine Carolyn Jalal who will be hitting 40 in 3 years. She will now love me forever!!! 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!!! Ageing 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 literally formed every second. Our DNA is also impacted by exercise and exposure to social and environmental changes, such as food additives, chemicals and food preservatives and lack of activity, both aerobically and anerobically.
When we are younger this accounts for our growth and development.
Each and every year is an important event in our lives as we notice 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!)
Ageing 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.
Ageing is also a process related to physiological change. Our bodies respond in different ways to the stress we place on them.
Although ageing can be seen externally by those around us there are a lot of internal effects of ageing 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 and perhaps more importantly, particularly if we are designing exercise programs for woman over 40 and supervising their daily or weekly exercise sessions. Let’s take a quick look at our brains.
The brain is the most complex part of the human body and the centre of our entire being. The brain consists of different areas and various types of cell tissues that undergo structural changes.
As we age, some sections of our brain’s regions shrink, whilst others remain stable. Ageing of the brain also impairs our reflexes and our reaction times decrease. 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; this can cause pain and osteoarthritis when we try to exercise.
In fact, just moving generally 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 over 40s and seniors. Mineral depletion also occurs, and we see a decline in the levels of calcium and phosphorus. This loss causes bones to be more susceptible to fractures. Of course we all know that exercise lessens the chance of fractures, particularly hip and long-bone fractures, but it is important to be aware of the “HEALTH” of your clients’ bones. Having a bone density test is a good idea.
Our Heart as We Age
Blood vessels lose their elasticity and fatty deposits on the artery walls make the arteries smaller, narrowing our vessels. As a result of this, the 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 in some people 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
However it is all not bad !!!!. Although ageing causes us to experience some aches, pains, saggy bits and some memory loss, it is true that regular activity and certain types of exercise, flexibility routines and meditation techniques, help keep us healthy (both physically and mentally) and in the best possible condition as we head over 40.
Ensuring stress is under control and taking good care of your body and brain can ensure a more active and less painful older age.
In adults aged 40–80 physical activity includes leisure time.
For this group physical activity such as walking, dancing, gardening, hiking, swimming and bike riding, back packing, as well as
A) Transportation activities such as walking or cycling
b) Occupational activities (i.e. work) such as household chores
playing games, sports or planned exercise in the context of daily, family and community activities.
In order to improve our cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, reduce the risk of things such as depression:
• Adults aged 40–80 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week OR do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week OR an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
• Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
• For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
• Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
So with all that in mind around our early 40s, our bodies go through a series of changes that affect the very core of our existence. We have hormonal and other changes; the very growth rate of our cells slows down. Also some woman may start to have some thyroid issues, menopause may be just starting and some woman can have polycystic ovaries syndrome which also hinders weight loss. So, first up have a medical checkup every year, reduce calorie intake slightly, eat less, of the rich fat laden calories, continue with a weight training program (drop the weight and increase the reps/complete an endurance program of 3 sets/40 second rest, and about 15 reps/complete this 2 days a week and include a walking program….or if you like to run do a sprint session 2 days a week keeping a long rest period between these run days. Sprints should be over 40 metres and complete as many sets that are comfortable. This is for those who currently run on a regular basis. In other words high intensity over a shorter time and make your breaks between 3- 4 days apart. When it comes to calories and losing weight the old equation of burn more calories than you eat still applies. So,… in a long winded answer “YES” it does get harder but it is even more important to keep up your exercise and good eating regime as you age. This will go towards a gracious, healthy, and a good quality of life as you head towards 125 years old.
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)