Getting older isn’t for sissies! As soon as life begins our bodies start to prepare us. Our bodies are wonderful machines that help us to grow and acquire various physical skills that we will use all our lives. The bad news is that once the body systems have fully matured aging starts, as early as our teens. So, the truth is while we feel the effects of aging more as past 50 our bodies have been aging for awhile with subtle changes we may not have noticed before may have a major impact to our physical performance capabilities.
So, let’s explore what some of those changes are. When we are talking about physical capability we look at 5 key areas which I will review below.
I am quite tall, and I remember as a child my mother would put a book on my head and make me walk around with it balanced on my head as she was wanted to ensure that I had good posture. Being tall herself she knew that I would probably tend to slump to make myself look smaller. I thought it was silly but am grateful for it now. Many things beside trying to make yourself shorter can affect posture. For those of us who carry purses or briefcases slung over our shoulders this can lead to changes in postural alignment, including a more forward head, rounded shoulders, an increase or decrease in the spinal curve in the lower back and increased bending in the hips and knees.
Strength declines with age especially if you do nothing to keep your muscles strong. You don’t need to as strong as a weight lifter but you do want to be able to carry groceries from the car, lift up your grandkids or do any of the other activities you do during the day .
Balance is also affected as you age. The tightening and weakening of muscles and decreased range of motion of joints can alter the body’s ability to respond to a balance challenge. Decreased circulation can affect the brains’ ability to help you stay balanced. These changes make you increasingly prone to falls.
The loss of flexibility results from changes in the body’s collagen structures. Collagen is a fibrous connective tissue that makes up about 30 per cent of the protein of your body tissues. As you age collagen fibres begin to stick together, causing connective tissue to become less elastic. Among other things this lack of elasticity can make it difficult to do shoulder checks when driving or bend over to tie your shoes .
Endurance is also affected by age, the ability to perform an activity like walking or running for a period. Because you are less flexible and have weakened muscles, it takes more energy to remain physically active. Thus, your body tires more quickly than it did before when you were younger. A loss of elasticity in the lungs and a slight stiffening of the air passageways can make breathing harder during endurance exercise.
The Silver Bullet
Yes there is a sliver bullet and it called movement . No matter how active or inactive you have been in the past by bringing movement into your life you can improve your posture, strength, balance, flexibility and endurance.