If you don’t move your body the way nature intended it to move, your muscles will atrophy and weaken, your joints will squeak and complain like the rusty hinges they will become, your bones will become porous and brittle and your body will stiffen and lock up. You’ve read that on these pages before.
“The body will become better at whatever you do — or don’t do. You don’t move? The body will make you better at NOT moving, by locking the tissues together. If you move, the body will allow you more movement.” — Ido Portal
If you are sedentary, you begin to lose muscle mass between ages 20 and 30 and can lose up to ten percent mass per decade if you remain sedentary. If you are physically active, you can maintain muscle mass until around age 60 when it slowly begins to decline unless you increase resistance exercise to compensate. If you have lost muscle mass and strength, can you regain it, or can you build new muscle mass? Studies by Tufts University researchers have shown that older adults, including both men and women as old as 93, can significantly increase strength and muscle mass as a result of doing resistance exercises, up to 300% in both strength and size over a six month period. When your leg muscles are weak, it’s easier to lose your balance and fall. When your core muscles are weak, your posture suffers and you start to develop that telltale old age slump.
How about your bones? Bone density declines as you get older, too. You start losing bone mass around age 30 if you are sedentary. This result from changes in hormonal levels and poor nutrition as well as inactivity. Your bones can lose mass and become very brittle (Osteoporosis) as you age, if you don’t compensate with exercise and proper nutrition. This can result in your bones breaking even with a simple fall. It’s been shown that 70% of those admitted to Emergency Rooms over 60 are as a result of falls — broken hips being the notable result of most falls. Your bone density is easy to measure. Check with your doctor to see if a DEXA bone density exam is called for.
Your joints get old too. They get weak and stiff. They creak and make terrible sounds. Hip and knee joints get weak and creaky and can become injured when overtaxed. Weak hip and knee joints result in reduced mobility and loss of range of motion. Shoulder and elbow joints are also easily injured when stressed in unusual positions, arm wrestling at age 75 for example, or swinging from trees for another. Arthritis in the joints can be painful and annoying. Joints, too, can be treated with exercise, but beware of overexercise. Some arthritis, particularly in the knees and hips has been shown to be caused by overuse. A knowledgeable fitness professional can help you.
These are the basic musculo-skeletal aspects of aging and how they can affect you as you get older. As you get older, you must keep your body strong and flexible. You can’t afford to let your body decay and it’s not too late to start exercising and moving your body. The only point of no return is when you breathe your last breath. You are never too old to recover your strength and mobility. But the longer you wait, the more your body will deteriorate.
So start a program of simple movements to regain your lost strength and range of motion — NOW! Start slow and easy and talk to a fitness professional to develop a routine that addresses your own physical situation and goals. Listen to your body and stop if you feel sharp or intense pain. See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
Remember that You Are Your Own Fountain of Youth and it’s never too late to find that Fountain within you.
Thank you for reading.