Everyone understands that we all age. However, the individual effects of aging vary widely. One person may become nonambulatory and hard of hearing while another may be on several prescription medications and develop memory problems. Exercise and proper nutrition can have a positive impact and delay or powerfully offset many effects of aging.
If you are a typical inactive adult, it’s likely that your aerobic capacity ‘ain’t what it used to be!’ You may be challenged to do some of the things you did when you were younger (common aging result if you haven’t exercised enough as your years increased). If you have lost the ability to move and do things with your body the way you used to, you can regain a good portion – perhaps all of it (even if you think it’s not possible due to your age). The key is engaging in physical activities that increase your heart rate. Try walking. You could start by walking at your most comfortable fast pace for 10 minutes, 2-3x week, and build from there. (Walks can be split up during the day if that’s more do-able than one long stint.) In no time, you’ll be walking two miles every day (within thirty to forty minutes which is ideal for full cardio benefit)!
Another effect of aging is lack of flexibility. The more flexible populations tend to be younger, more physically active, and female. Have you lost flexibility over time? Get more physically active and incorporate flexibility exercises into your exercise routines and you’ll go far in retaining youthful flexibility (not to mention your body will look younger and be healthier, too).
Muscle strength and muscle mass loss begins to decline (in most Americans) as early as age forty. Resistance training can reverse these losses. With a regular physical exercise regimen of strength training (just 2x/week), you’ll see increased muscle strength and mass plus improved immune function and increased self-confidence before you know it!
With age, people also tend to gain weight and experience an increase in body fat. Women tend to gain more body fat and lose more muscle and bone mass during and post menopause. Weight gain and body composition can be improved with proper nutrition and regular physical activity (creating a more youthful you!).
Some of the most important exercise goals for older adults and the elderly are those to increase range of motion, increase strength and improve balance. Achieving these goals can help to reduce the effects of aging, prevent falls, improve quality of life and increase self-efficacy.