Getting stronger as we age
Most people, independent of gender, believe that it is not possible to get fit and strong after they’ve hit a certain age.
For many years, there wasn’t any information available either, and most fitness places, like gyms and studios; as well as fitness adds for equipment, classes and supplements, and other fitness related marketing were mainly focused on the less than 30 population. And for the rest of us, we had to deal with the magic detoxes, waist trainers and surgeries that would make us look 25 again.
I’m extremely grateful to be alive on this day and age when we can see several fitness professionals as well as scientists looking into the importance of staying active as we age and bringing us different options to do so.
So, what happens as we age?
From the moment we are born and until 20 years of age, our muscles will be growing larger and stronger, especially if we exercise.
And from 20 to 50, we will be in a sort of plateau.
At 50, men will we start seeing the effect of ages in their muscles and bones. But for women, this happens a lot earlier, even as early as when we hit 30.
One of the inevitable effects of ageing is involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function, called Sarcopenia. According to research, muscle mass can decrease between 3 and 8% after 30, and even more after 60.
When we lose muscle mass, our bodies will become weaker in general, and we will be more prone to falls and injuries. Muscles are also there to protect our bones, and as muscle decrease, so does bone density, so we risk bones and joints that can get damaged more easily.
“This involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function is a fundamental cause of and contributor to disability in older people. This is because sarcopenia increases the risks of falls and vulnerability to injury and, consequently, can lead to functional dependence and disability [6,7]. A decrease in muscle mass is also accompanied by a progressive increase in fat mass and consequently changes in body composition, and is associated with an increased incidence of insulin resistance in the elderly [1,4,5,8]. Furthermore, bone density decreases, joint stiffness increases, and there is a small reduction in stature (kyphosis) […]”
There is more to this of course, so I’m leaving the full research linked here:
Muscle tissue changes with aging - PMC (nih.gov)
What is special in the case of women?
As women, beyond loss of muscle mass and decrease in bone density, we have to consider what happens as we approach menopause and transit through it.
Menopause together with ageing itself can cause different physiologic changes, and there are effects in all organs, including the brain.
All these changes have the potential of leading to diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. And that’s why exercise and nutrition play such an important role.
Ideally, we should be exercising much before with hit the 30 years young mark, or the menopause mark. But not all of us have had the same opportunities or have chosen the same lifestyle. Bear with me, there’s good news below for you, if you’re just starting out!
If we start exercising as an earlier stage, our bodies will be more ready to deal with the changes that ageing, and menopause bring. These will still happen, but we are more likely to navigate through them differently.
As I’ve mentioned in other articles and many posts in my socials, exercise, specially strength training, brings plenty of benefits into our lives, such as:
But can we get stronger and fitter after 30- or 40-years young? And can we cheat ageing?
The answer is yes and no. We can get stronger, fitter and more energized no matter what age we start exercising. However, reversing ageing is a technology still to be developed. Is any of you a mad scientist that can help?
The great news is that we can reduce the effects of ageing simply by moving more. And, what’s more, we can gain a considerable amount of muscle mass as well as cardiovascular resistance to improve our health overall.
And yes, if you are going through menopause, you can 100% do some exercise. Regular exercise will most likely not reduce the hot flushes, but it can help you maintain a healthy weight, relieve stress, and improve your quality of life.
Exercise also plays a very important role on the prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases.
Weight-bearing exercise is essential, and it becomes very important. It will contribute to:
What each of us does, will depend on many other factors, like exercise history, other health conditions, our goals and our environment.
So, we know exercise is important and we should be all doing a bit more of that. But what should we do?
First, you should do something you enjoy. That way, you know you will stick to it. And that is what matters most.
Second, keep it simple.
Here are some key points: (I´ve included a few nutrition and bonus ideas as well)
And if you’re not sure where to start, you can check this routine I made for you:
Take 20 minutes for you /Tómate 20 minutos para ti - VANESA NICOLOSI
Or any on my YouTube Channel
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