It’s something that we can’t deny, the looming of Old Mother Time will get us all eventually, and while we hit a peak with both our physical and emotional health, both start a gradual decline that we can get quite concerned about. But what are the key changes in the body as we age, and what can we do to prevent them?
As we age we lose our bone density, also known as osteoporosis. Part of the reason our bones become less dense is because of the lack of calcium, as the body will absorb less calcium (and vitamin D) from foods. Certain bones tend to weaken more than others such as the bones in the spine, which can be very painful, and while you can pay a visit to the chiropractors to work on realigning your spine, you can work at increasing your bone density by doing a few things. Exercise, especially resistance based ones, has been shown to increase bone density. You should also increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D, and up your intake of good fats, as these will help to absorb the calcium and vitamin D into your bones. In addition to this, you need to cut back on foods that will take calcium from your bones, such as carbonated drinks, caffeine, and the main culprit, refined sugar.
Muscles (And Body Fat)
The decrease in muscle mass starts around the age of 30 and is caused by the decrease in levels of growth hormone, or testosterone in men. Most people will only lose about 10 to 15% of their strength due to age, but there are issues like sarcopenia which comes from extreme inactivity. You can continue to strengthen your muscles as you age by taking part in resistance training, or anything that requires you to fight against gravity, from sit-ups to push-ups and pull-ups. Body weight exercises are a great place to start. Exercising is also great to reduce body fat as you age. By the age of 75, your amount of body fat tends to double in comparison to your early 20s and 30s, which will increase the risk of illnesses like diabetes.
Generally, the number of nerve cells will decrease in the brain as you age, but although your brain is able to compensate by making new connections between the nerve cells, your brain will tend to have more cells than it needs to do standard activities, also known as redundancy. Of course, the concern for many of us as we age is the onset of age-related cognitive decline, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. The trick to preventing this as best as possible is, again, exercise, but for your brain. That feeling of frustration when you’re learning something new is the thing you should be aiming for. This is the point where your brain is making new connections and neurons. So by doing things that are completely brand new, from learning an instrument to a language, this is what will keep your mind sharp and fresh.
These are the three areas that you need to focus on to age well. And, remember, it is never too late to start, no matter how old you are.