Our bodies and the ageing process
Unfortunately, ageing is a process that cannot be avoided - and it happens to all of us! Whether you are reading this as a young adult or you are into the middle to late stages of life, this applies to you.
Over time (in fact, this process begins in early adulthood!) our muscles and joints undergo progressive changes - read on to find out more specifically about what these are.
Starting from the age of 25 (!!) we start to lose our total number of muscle fibres. This correlates to a loss of strength and muscle power.
Over time we lose total muscle mass. In young adults our muscles make up 50% of our body weight, but this decreases to just 25% by 75-80 years of age. This reduction in muscle tissue is replaced by an increase in fatty tissue.
So, to put it simply; as we get older, our muscles become smaller and weaker!
Our skeletal system goes through a lifelong process of remodeling, where mature bone tissue is constantly being removed and new bone tissue is being formed. This helps us maintain healthy bones and joints.
This balance between tissue removal and replacement changes with increasing age, resulting in loss of bone tissue and reduced mineral content. This can cause our bones to become less dense, more fragile, and more prone to fractures.
Put simply; over time our bones become weaker and more brittle.
What does this mean for you?
These changes in muscle size and function can affect all of us in many ways.
Our general fitness and physical performance declines as a result of loss of muscle mass, and weaker muscles can increase our risk of injury when performing physical tasks or exercise. It also means our ability to heal and recover from injury takes longer as we get older.
Later in life, poor muscle function and strength can also contribute to a reduction in balance, making older people more vulnerable to falls. This loss of balance combined with reduced bone density can lead to more serious injuries like fractures.
What can you do about this?
Although this is a natural process that occurs over time, it can be slowed and the implications reduced through physical activity and by specifically loading our muscles and joints.
Through exercising, we can train our muscles and bones to maintain good health, strength and composition. Specifically, resistance training for muscles has been shown to be most effective, as well as balance exercises to improve our standing balance plus reduce risk of falls.
Weight-bearing activity such as walking, as well as weight-training exercises can help to improve and maintain our bone density.
So even from our early adult years, right through to older age, we should be doing exercise to slow down the effects that ageing has on our muscles and joints. As the saying goes, "If you don’t use it, you lose it!"
How can you get started?
Perhaps getting out for a 30 minute walk each day will help you achieve your fitness goals and stay healthy. Or maybe signing up for a gym or our Reformer Pilates classes might be the answer!
If you are struggling with any of the above, or looking for some guidance around how to get exercising safely and effectively, our physios can help! We love to see and help people achieve an active and healthy lifestyle, so contact us today or make a booking through our website if this sounds right for you.