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As we age our bodies start to lose muscle and bone density and exercise can be used to lower the amount you lose. Keeping fit as you get older is really important to stay feeling young.

What happens as we get older?

Naturally as we age our bodies start to change and physical aspects start to decline and this is completely normal. But there are ways to prevent the ageing process from happening that quickly but its important to understand what happens as you age.

From the age of 25 your VO2 max starts to decline about 1% per year - this is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can carry around per minute. This means that your endurance/stamina starts to decline naturally each year if you don't exercise at all. This is because the heart and lungs start to become less efficient and your body isn't as good at delivering and utilising oxygen.

Muscle mass and strength is at its best at around the age of 30 surprisingly enough and from that point on your muscles start to decline and you lose up to 1-2% a year from the age of 40 onwards and this can be quite substantial. If you are losing muscle tissue then that affects your strength and stability in every day live, for example, losing muscles inhibits your ability to carry your shopping, or bend down and tie your shoe laces so its important you try to maintain them.

Bone mass also starts to decline meaning your bones become less strong and this can lead to osteoporosis as the density of the bones is weakened and they are more prone to fractures.

Also your metabolism begins to slow down which means you burn less calories per day, therefore if you fail to change your diet and continue eating the same amount of calories you will gain weight. Because of the lower need for calories if you do change the diet then you will start to lose weight and with a loss of muscle and bone tissue as you age your weight will decline.

Cardio exercise to prevent ageing

There is a debate about what type of exercise is best to prevent ageing and both cardio and strength training have their benefits.

Cardio work will benefit the body and prevent ageing by working with improving strength and efficiency of the heart and lungs.

Some good ways to keep fit using cardio are:

  • Try to include gentle walking as part of your daily routine. Walk for at least 30 minutes per day at a gentle pace to keep your heart rate elevated and delivering oxygen around the body
  • Make some lifestyle changes such as doing the gardening on a more regular basis, mowing the lawn for example actually burns lots of calories and keeps the heart rate elevated for a long period without realising it.
  • Take up a sporting activity or class like playing squash with a friend once a week or a fitness class like aerobics to keep working aerobically.
  • Another lifestyle change could be if you get the bus or train to work try getting off a stop early and walking the remainder of the distance or if you work in a tower block then start off walking at least one floor and work up to walking all the way.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • www.webmd.com
  • www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au

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