An increase in years will inevitably bring some bodily changes. There will be changes to your skeleton with a natural thinning of bones in both men but particularly women. Exercise can help prevent the disease osteoporosis.
Changes occur in the joints, and arthritis, rheumatism and backache are painful reminders of the passing years for too many people. With age, muscles can become weaker, and less able to support – particularly true if you don’t keep active. The muscles begin to atrophy and posture and your self-esteem can be adversely effected by poor muscle tone.
There may be respiratory problems too for some older people, which are often brought about by insufficient exercise (and from the effects of smoking). These problems in turn decrease the efficiency of your cardio-vascular system (your heart and lungs) which can affect breathing and circulation, leaving you feeling fatigued and breathless. Sadly, too, there may be changes to your nervous system, which can result in memory loss, lack of co-ordination and balance.
Of course, some bodily decline is inevitable as the years pass by but much of the decline can be prevented, and some even reversed. Heredity factors also play an important role in determining many of these changes, in just the same way as they can determine individuals look and character.
Exercise will keep you fit for work and play and make you confident and more comfortable with yourself. For example, when you go travelling or are faced with an unexpected challenge you feel able to cope. Exercise helps ease joint problems and weight bearing exercise (brisk walking etc.) can help prevent the bone disease osteoporosis. Both could restrict your mobility; rob you of your physical independence and quality of life in later years.
But remember it’s important that you also eat a sensible well-balanced diet to keep healthy and in good shape. If you are what you eat what stronger motivation do you need?
- Eat more fibre and less fat.
- Consume more olive oil and less lard and butter.
- Shift from red meat to fish and chicken
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day
Physical activity is also extremely important for maintaining bone strength and it can also improve muscle strength, thus helping to prevent falls which can cause fractures. Calcium found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt builds and maintains bone strength. Other good sources of calcium are found in green vegetables, tinned fish (eaten with the bones) and cereal products. But alongside the Calcium, Vitamin D is essential for maintaining bones and helping to prevent Osteoporosis. Ideally we need 1,000 of Vitamin D a day. The main source of Vitamin D is that formed in the skin by the action of summer sunlight between April and October. But for some older people exposure to the sun can be limited and the ability to convert Vitamin D to its active form is impaired with ageing. Because few foods contain Vitamin D, I for one prefer to take a daily supplement of calcium plus Vitamin D to ensure an adequate intake. There is an increase in age-specific fracture risk related to vitamin D. Loss of muscle strength and reduced bone density contribute to falls and fractures and the rates increase with age so regular physical activity, such as walking strengthens and builds up muscle and bone and increases calorie requirements, which in turn increases appetite and increases a sense of well-being.
Reproduced from Sod Sitting, Get Moving!: Getting Active in Your 60s, 70s and Beyond Hardcover – 9 Mar. 2017 by Sir Muir Gray (Author), Diana Moran (Author), David Mostyn (Illustrator)To buy a copy click here