Several factors come into play when determining how a person’s body will age. The mind may remain alert and quick to respond, while the effects of aging on the body may be much more debilitating. Loss of muscle tone and decreased reaction times are problems everyone could face at some point in their lives. Remaining active by participating in exercise and other forms of activity can prevent a percentage of this deterioration.
Lack of Activity
A sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to bone and muscle strength. The less active you are, the more muscle and bone you lose over time. Chronic illnesses, such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis also determine how active a person is. Pain and inflammation caused by certain types of disease can make movement painful. Staying active and taking the proper medications can help to alleviate some of the discomfort.
Inactivity plays a significant role in the deterioration of muscle tissue in people over the age of 50, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Muscle mass decreases faster with lack of use. The number of muscle fibers decreases, and existing fibers shrink in size. This gives the appearance that the muscle is wasting away. The decrease in muscle fibers considerably reduces an older adult’s response time. Regular exercise increases blood flow to the muscles and can slow down this type of degeneration.
As a person ages, their metabolism slows down. Combine that with the decrease in the heart’s ability to pump large amounts of blood effectively and fatigue becomes an overwhelming issue. Muscle fatigue is a sign of decreased strength and endurance. Stretching several times throughout the day will increase blood flow. This brings much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and reduces fatigue. It also aids in carrying away waste that can weaken the immune system. As the body begins to use fewer hormones, the metabolism slows to the point where the production of those hormones will also decrease.
Aging also reduces the amount of fluid the body stores. Tendons and ligaments can become dehydrated and stiff, reducing the body’s flexibility and ability to react in a timely fashion. When mobility is lost, the risk of injury increases. Strained muscles, torn ligaments and broken bones are more common as a person ages. Repeated movements of the joints as we age will also reduce the amount of fluid in the cushions of our joints.
A prime example is a meniscus in the knee. If the meniscus ruptures or loses its fluid, bones have no cushion and begin to wear against each other. In cases like this, a partial or full knee replacement may be needed. Joint replacements are more successful if the muscles that support them are in good condition.
Exercise, even if it is just walking or swimming, can prevent muscle loss and increase mobility. Becoming more active can reverse some signs of deterioration. If you are trying to lose weight or are just beginning a new health journey or weight loss experience, contact your primary physician first and get a complete physical. This will show you any areas of concern that you will need to address before starting. They can also provide you with sound, nutritional advice to support your body’s dietary needs.
You are never too old to start rebuilding your health! Start slow and eventually add to your program. The more active you become, the better you will feel! Weight loss and fitness take time and dedication. Stick with it and you will be amazed at the results!