Mid-Week MOT: Old dog....New tricks?
The changes that occur to the body during the ageing process don't have to stop you functioning fully.
There are some basic steps you can take to ensure a healthy older age, perhaps even surpassing the fitness levels you achieved in adulthood.
Exercise, exercise, exercise and more exercise!
Read on to find out more.......
As we grow older our bodies change in lots of ways from composition to flexibility, sight, hearing, balance and organ health.
From the age of 30, we begin to lose muscle mass as growth hormone and testosterone production decreases. We can expect a loss of about 10-15% as a result of the ageing process with much more lost through disease or inactivity.
From age 75, our body fat can double from levels experienced throughout adulthood, and this increases our diabetes risk.
Bones lose density as our ability to absorb dietary calcium decreases.
Post menopausal women have a decline in oestrogen levels (responsible for bone production) and are at particular risk of osteoporosis and associated fractures. The femur (thigh bone), wrist and spine are usually effected first.
We can expect loss of spinal disc height and increase risk of osteoarthritis as cartilage wears thin and bone ends approximate.
Ligaments lose their elasticity and so joints become stiffer as a result, effecting flexibility. Couple this with blood vessel decline and longer healing times and the picture could indeed seem a bit bleak!
It doesn't have to be a negative picture, with the application of some simple body awareness and self help techniques.
AgeUK, the leading authority on the older person in this country, list exercise as number one on their list of falls prevention measures.
Exercise is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, neurological conditions such as Alzheimers and dementia, diabetes, some cancers, high blood pressure and obesity.
Weight bearing exercise and resistance training can delay the effects of ageing such as muscle loss and even improve it beyond normal at any age.
Regular exercise can combat the loss of cardiac performance associated with stiffening arteries and decrease heart pump function.
Exercise for the older person should focus on increasing strength, flexibility, balance and energy levels. It should take into account the individual's ability, medical health and injury presence. Above all, it should be fun and group exercise sessions are an excellent way of adding in a social aspect and maintaining independence.
Walking is a brilliant way of improving fitness and its free. Take a dog or friend and make it as hard as you feel like.
Senior exercise classes get you moving with like minded people, swimming, yoga or pilates are great for strength and posture whilst Tai Chi or Qi Gong improve balance.
Chair bound people are not exempt as there are lots of upper body exercises to be done and pool based activities are beneficial.
Take care when exercising and consult your GP before you start, to have a check up.
The older person is less efficient at heat regulation and may have dizziness or be unsteady so group exercise is a great option with a suitably qualified instructor.
As well as listing exercise as a key factor to preventing elderly falls, AgeUk also state that you make sure your eyes and ears are in good health, you take your medications correctly, look after your feet (especially if diabetic) and maintain a safe environment at home (reduce trip hazards such as rugs and low level furniture in walkways).
Above all, commit to your health, build up slowly and make sure you have fun.
More resources and advice here:
OsteoFusion are proud to be supporting the over 60's exercise group Evergreen Fitness, by providing half price treatments, advice and promoting good health to the older person.
For osteopathy in High Wycombe and beyond, call Lucy from OsteoFusion on 07833 321604 or visit www.osteofusion.co.uk
Thanks for reading.