That old saying – which goes something like: “I’m not as young as I used to be” – has truth attached to it. As we age, our vital organs, bones and joints become older. Medical experts have shown, in their research, that the composition of a human body changes, as do our metabolic systems, as it ages. Why is this so? Read on to find out.
Why our metabolic systems change as we grow older
In a study conducted by Drs St-Onge and Gallagher it was found that, as a person grows older, the fat content in their body grows while – at the same time – the amount of muscle decreases. As we know, the more lean muscle you have in your body the greater is your ability to burn fat even when at rest. This means that you should be building more lean muscle in your younger years to make up for the muscle loss you will experience in your later years.
How you can counteract this muscle loss
At the moment there are no proven methods of counteracting ageing and the resultant muscle loss. However, what you can do – right now – is to take a number of precautions so that you won’t be caught short in your later years regarding age-related diseases.
Ensure that you take in enough calcium
Calcium has been proven to have beneficial qualities in terms of keeping your bones and teeth strong. As you age, your bones become brittle and you become at risk for bone diseases such as osteoporosis and the like.
Remember that vitamin D is essential for the correct absorption and processing of calcium. This means that if you want to reap the full benefit of the calcium that you’re taking in you need to make sure that you are taking in enough vitamin D through either sunlight or supplements.
Perform weight-bearing exercises
Another method of counteracting the detrimental signs of ageing is to perform weight-bearing exercises. By this, we don’t mean that you need to start taking up weight-lifting – nothing of the sort!
All we mean is that you should be performing exercises that use your body weight as a means of resistance. For example, a great low-impact exercise such as this is water aerobics. It uses your body weight – in conjunction with the resistance that the water provides – to give you a great workout.
Another fantastic example of an exercise which is extremely beneficial for elderly people is Pilates. This is because it is a weight-bearing exercise, which uses your body weight for the exercises, but involves no strain on your joints. This makes Pilates a great exercise for people who suffer from diseases of the joints such as arthritis.
Eat the right foods
In our recent post – entitled What Foods Should Older Adults Eat – we gave a few hints and tips about what older people should eat. Here’s a summary of what we advised:
- When you are over 60 you should limit your intake of sodium which usually comes in the form of salt. This is because sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure and older adults are already at risk of high blood pressure.
- As an older adult, you need to limit the amount of bad cholesterol that you take in. Rather opt for the good cholesterol that can be found in avocados. This is because it limits the build-up of bad cholesterol in your blood stream and blood vessels.
- As an older person, you have a higher propensity to put on weight as your needs for energy decrease. This means that to minimise weight gain you need to take in less calories. To help you do this, opt to eat whole grains which keep you fuller for longer so making sure that you don’t eat more than you should.
To find out more about how to train older adults and how their metabolic systems are different from younger people, we recommend that you study Trifocus Fitness Academy’s Exercise for Elderly Course. During this qualification, you’ll learn exactly what is required to train an elderly person and to advise him or her what he or she should be eating. For more information and to register, follow this link.