I have had read many book’s, articles and research on the aging process. The consensus is there is no such situation as aging. In the human body there is only growth and decay, and it’s up to you to decide which process appeals to you. While many changes in your body cannot be prevented we can certainly take a proactive approach instead of a reactive one in controlling what we can.
The first component of the human movement system that will rot away in your body as a result of living an inactive lifestyle are your joints then your nerves & muscle’s. Endless calories and lack of activity fosters a chemistry of decay in your body not growth.
With that being said let’s begin with our:
Joints operate with connective tissue — cartilage, tendons and ligaments. As people age, they get dehydrated making the tissue brittle and frayed. As a result of the dehydration, ligaments, which connect joints together, tend to become less elastic, making joints feel tight or stiff.
Consequently, most people become less flexible as they age. Ligaments tend to tear more easily, and when they tear, they heal more slowly. In addition, for those living a sedentary lifestyle the cartilage that lines the joints tends to thin and lack of muscle development, increasing neuro dysfuntions and muscle imbalances surrounding their joints exist’s are more pronounced.
As a result the surfaces of a joint may not slide over each other as well as they used to, making the joint more susceptible to injury. Repeated injury or the lifelong use of joints often leads to pain, which is one of the most common complaints for people older than 50 years of age.
Trade high-impact activities for low-impact exercise. Do the treadmill instead of the hard pavement, if needed, the elliptical machine is even a better substitute for those with serious joint problems. Participate in yoga classes and/or follow a corrective stretching program. Do high repetition with lighter weights to increase your rage of motion and hold each contraction for a count of 5. This will send a neural drive to the support muscles around the joints educating them to better support the joint. Making you less susceptible to injury.
2) Brain & Nervous System
The decaying process causes muscle and neural atrophy. The substances and structures involved in sending messages in the brain deterioate such as neurotransmitters and the number of receptors on nerve cells decreases therefore altering the way the brain functions.
Because of these changes, the brain may/will function slower. Older people may react and do tasks somewhat slower and some mental functions may be subtly reduced. Which include things such as short-term memory, and the ability to learn a new movement pattern. Therefore, older people are more vulnerable to injury.
Train your brain and nervous system with the same intensity that you would train your muscles. Read, think, learn a new dance move, and incorporate plyometric exercises into your daily routine. Shock your nervous system.
Why? It’s very important that we educate the nervous system on how to recruit the right selection of muscle groups at the right time, at the right joint, with the right amount of force. Every certified trainer knows that the nervous system dictates movement. The goal of plyometric training is to attain neuromuscular efficiency so we can react quickly, therefore, if you experience a sudden slip, and your nervous system is working efficiently, you might catch yourself before hitting the ground. An elder person without the ability to stop his/her fall might break a hip, leg, arm or all three.
Fortunately none of us has to experience such inevitable fate. We can prepare our body for random chaotic movement by fine tuning its nerves and feedback mechanisms when we focus on it in our workouts.
And it’s this type of training (plyometrics/power) more than muscle size or strength, that determines whether you’ll enjoy your golden years or spend them in an assisted care facility.
Even for people like myself who have been training for over 20yrs, the amount of muscle tissue and strength I have will inevitably decrease as I age. Research shows that loss of muscle mass begins in your late 20’s and of course continues throughout life at a faster rate. However, it can be a gracefull process but if you do not workout, the less active you are, the faster you lose muscle. This happens because your levels of growth hormone and testosterone, which help stimulate muscle development, decrease with age.
Adults lose about a half pound of muscle per year during their 30’s and 40’s. Even more disturbing is that the rate of muscle loss may double to one pound per year in those over 50 years of age. A decrease in muscle tissue means a decrease in strength and a slower resting metabolic rate. A decrease in strength means and increase in odds of being injured during day-to-daylife. A slower resting metabolic rate means that some calories previously used by high-energy muscle tissue are no longer need and are therefore stored as fat.
Lifting weights increases muscle mass even into your golden years which can partially overcome or at least delay the loss of any further muscle mass and strength. Let’s not forget also that muscles are metabolically active.
The idea is that for every pound of new muscle, your body will burn an extra 60 calories per day. Add five pounds of new muscle and you will automatically burn an additional 31 pounds of fat in a year… or so the theory goes, anyway.
When you gain muscle, your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns at rest) goes up. As people age and lose muscle, the amount of body fat tends to increase. Too much body fat can increase the risk of health problems. A healthy diet and exercise can help anybody’s body fat from increasing too much.
The take home message is simple. Health and vitality are not going to develop in your body until you make conditions favorable for them through proper eating, sleep and exercises.
The disorder’s we speak of are a result of one’s choice to send their body signals of decay. Endless calories and lack of activity fosters a chemistry of degeneration in your body not regeneration.
The way we spend our time is the way we measure our quality of life. It isn’t genetics, timing, or knowing the right people. It’s what we do with the 168 hours of the week. Successful people don’t find time -they make time. Time is life. Life is mobility.
Anything worth achieving comes with a price they come as a result of time, sacrifice and pain because life is hard. The way you live your life determines your state of health. You can see this as a burden or privilege.