As we get older (actually from around the age of 30) our bodies start to change and we need to make more of an effort to ensure we function at our best. I'll be writing more about maintaining vitality and optimum health in senior years in my future articles.
For now here are a few things you may want to consider incorporating into your routine... whatever your age!
Drink more water
As we age we normally experience a reduction in total body water. This affects our body’s ability to regulate temperature. Keep fluid levels topped up by making sure you drink plenty of water. This is particularly important in the summer as this is the time we are most likely to over-heat.
Strengthen the legs
Evidence suggests that lower body strength tends to deteriorate sooner than upper body (Spiroduso, Francis and MacRae 2005). Sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle tissue) affects us all; even the most active of individuals.
Muscles that are affected more so than others are the thighs and bottom due to the type of muscle fibres found in the musculature of these areas. Exercises that work these muscles include squats, lunges and step-ups. If you don’t feel confident performing these exercises with correct technique try to include lots of walking in your daily routine, incorporating some hill walking to raise intensity. Cycling is another great way to work the legs. You can also ask an instructor at your local gym to show you the best way to strengthen these muscles safely and effectively.
Stretch the calves
Ankle flexibility is another area that can be affected by age. If as you read this, you try flexing and pointing your foot, you will feel that your calf muscle stretches as you flex and contracts as you point. As we grow older the muscles at the front of the ankle can weaken and flexing the foot can become more difficult. As a result of this calf muscles tighten up which makes flexing more of a problem thus creating a vicious circle. Gently stretching and massaging tight calves and flexing the ankle may help or prevent any issues.
The body’s joints all rely on movement for nourishment (this is often why we get aches and pains in the morning or after being static for long periods of time).Try not to sit for long periods of time; keep joints mobile with simple movements like bending and straightening limbs or circling the arms, legs, wrists and ankles. Also try some gentle stretching, particularly for the chest, hips, legs and back, and of course include lots of walking in your daily routine.
Try not to over-eat
Many of us are baffled as to why as we get older we struggle to lose weight. As we age our metabolism tends to drop which affects our ability to reduce body fat. This is due to a number of factors but fortunately we can do something about a couple of them.
When our metabolic rate drops we don't need as many calories to function, which means we are less likely to 'get away with' indulging as much as we could when we were younger. Have a look at your diet andif there is anything you are eating that is calorie dense or if you are just eating too much then a few small changes may be all you need to reduce calorie intake. One of the biggest culprits is sugar so try to be aware of how much sugar you are consuming. Many pre-prepared foods contain more sugar than you think so always check the label.
Boosting the metabolism is another way to help keep weight down. Regular exercise and movement is an obvious way to burn calories but a sure-fire way of boosting the metabolism is to improve body composition by increasing muscle mass. Weight-bearing exercise is the most effective way to do this. Simple daily tasks like cleaning, gardening, DIY, carrying shopping can all help. You could try a simple exercise routine at home with some resistance bands or weights that you feel confident using. Another option is to hire a Personal Trainer or ask your local gym for some help.
Louise holds a Level 3 HFE Qualification in Exercise for Older Adults. For more information on age-specific training please see here.
LLouise Appel Personal Trainer, St John's Wood & Personal Trainer Maida Vale offers customised, individual Personal Training and Pilates at Lords Cricket Ground, St John's Wood. Personal Trainer Harpenden & Personal Trainer St Albans is located at EsTR Fitness.