There’s no denying the inevitable health changes that occur as we age. No matter your phase of life, growing older is something we all experience. However, that doesn’t mean we are powerless in the process. So, what is really happening to our health as we age and how can we make the most of it?

What happens to your heart health

As we get older the blood vessels and arteries begin to stiffen forcing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. Although your heart muscles change to adjust, your heart rate at rest will stay about the same and only elevate slightly during activities. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

What you can do

  • Stay active to maintain a healthy weight and lower risk of heart disease.
  • Eat polyunsaturated (healthy) fats like those found in fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds to maintain good cholesterol. 
  • Don’t smoke as it contributes to the hardening of the arteries and increases blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Manage stress to prevent high blood pressure and overall good health.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep to ensure healing and repair of heart and blood vessels. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.

What happens to your bones, muscles, and joints

As we age bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture. Muscles also lose strength, endurance, and flexibility. Each of these factors can effect your coordination, stability, and balance.

What you can do

  • Include the recommended intake of calcium from sources such as dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon, and tofu. The average adult needs 1,000 mg of calcium per day. The amount increases to 1,200 mg per day for women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 71.
  • Include the recommended intake of vitamin D which is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years. Sources include sunlight, tuna, salmon, eggs, vitamin D-fortified milk, and vitamin D supplements.
  • Include exercises such as walking, jogging, and weight training to help build strong bones and slow down bone loss.

What happens to your weight

The body’s ability to burn calories slows down as you age. In other words, if you decrease physical activity but continue to eat the same, you’ll gain weight.

What you can do

What happens to your brain

Your brain changes as you age that may influence your memory and thinking, such as forgetting names and/or having a harder time multitasking.

What you can do

  • Stick to a manageable exercise routine. Studies suggest regular exercise is associated with better brain health and function as it increases blood flow to the whole body, including the brain.
  • Stick to a heart-healthy diet by choosing, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein sources all of which benefit the brain.
  • Be mentally active which may help to keep memory and thinking skills strong. Examples include reading, playing word games, or learning to play an instrument.
  • Keep up with social interaction which helps ward off depression and stress that can also lead to memory loss over time. 

To sum up, maintaining a regular exercise routine, heart-healthy diet, and choosing the right lifestyle habits can help prevent negative effects that may be associated with aging, such as heart disease, bone density loss, weight gain, and memory loss. For guidance on the specific exercises and diet that are right for you set up your free consultation with one of our experienced personal trainers today.