We want to stay healthy and active as we age.
Here in Santa Cruz County, we keep up our active lifestyles long after we turn 40. An active lifestyle is fun for us. It also means we are taking care of our health. We feel great when we are active. We want to stay active throughout our lives.
The only difficulty? Our bodies are always changing. We start to notice decreased performance after 40. The fact is, there are certain lifestyle changes we need to make as we get older if we want to maintain an active lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at the major changes we need to address as we age.
Our joints grow stiffer with age.
As we age, our cartilage wears down. Our joints don’t slide as well as they used to. We lose range of motion as our ligaments and tendons grow more rigid and brittle. The cause is loss of hydration within our joints. Sadly, drinking more water won’t fix the problem.
When it comes to our joints’ range of motion, move it or lose it.
Find ways to move your joints through a full range of motion everyday. Make circles with your arms, legs, ankles, wrists. Make sure all of your joints move in every direction they are meant to. Consider practices like yoga that encourage movements you don’t do throughout your regular day. I’ve designed a warm-up practice that’s perfect for keep your joints healthy. Find the warm-up video at this link.
Compressing your joints under load with weight training or other activities that are weight-bearing is also helpful.
Never train into pain.
Avoid activities that cause your joints to swell or that cause pain.
Dietary changes, weight loss, and supplementation may also help. Talk to your preferred medical provider for advice on how to keep your joints in motion with nutrition and proper weight management.
We begin to lose muscle at age 30.
The number of muscle fibers, as well as the size of muscle fibers, progressively decreases as time goes on. As we lose muscle strength, we place more strain on certain joints. Our knees especially are at risk of arthritis. The good news is that we can slow down this process by continuing to build muscle.
Build muscle through strength and resistance training.
The effort needs to be difficult enough to make a change, but not so hard you injure yourself. Starting a new routine with a certified professional, and under the care of a licensed medical provider, will ensure you’re starting at the right pace and weight for your body.
Also consider increasing protein in your diet. Proteins are the building blocks of muscles.
Endurance and stamina decrease over the age of 40.
You can, however, maintain your endurance, and even improve it. The key is cardiovascular exercise.
Get your heart rate up to increase your endurance.
Rowing, biking, and swimming are good for exercising your heart and your lungs. Walking can work, but as a low impact activity, it also has lower cardiovascular benefit. If you need to walk, try to step up your pace to get your heart rate up.
Running is great for your heart and lungs, and can be good for your joints. Cycling and swimming work for folks with degenerative joint disease in their knees and spine. Sprinting maximizes muscle power, endurance, and stamina. Try intervals of fast and slow as you move through your cardio workout of choice.
At Golden Chiropractic we recommend working with a certified professional to design your program and using a fitness tracker to keep you on course. Measuring and monitoring your performance and where you’re having trouble will keep you out of pain and into life.
Our metabolism slows down about 5% every 10 years after 40.
That means we burn calories more slowly. The mitochondria in our muscles die out as we age. Since the mitochondria convert food into energy, we burn fewer calories.
Build more muscle for a more efficient metabolism.
More muscle means more calorie burning. Decreasing your calorie intake by 100 calories per day will also slow down your weight gain. If you need to jump-start your dietary changes, consider a plan that encourages mindfulness around meal planning and eating.
We recover more slowly as we age.
Younger athletes can work out everyday, and even more than one workout in a day. That’s not true once you’re over 40.
Create a reasonable workout and rest schedule.
You may have to limit yourself to working out every other day. You may have to alternate cardio days and weight training days. You may have to workout one cardio day, one weight training day, and follow them with a rest day. Experiment and listen to your body to figure out what works best for you.
Injuries are statistically more likely after 40.
Don’t push through the pain. You may not like it, but your body just doesn’t bounce back and heal quickly anymore.
Back off fitness and get treatment so you can heal.
A muscle pull or a joint ache that lasts over a week needs to be evaluated. Treatment from your sports chiropractor, physical therapist or orthopedist can speed healing. These professionals can also develop a modified fitness program so you don’t start to lose your mind.
Invest in active rest.
Sitting still and waiting to heal is hard, even with the patience we have developed with age. A modified workout will be the answer. Be smart, modify and slow down for life-long health.
Body work is NOT a luxury.
Paying attention to your joints, muscles, and nervous system decreases the effects of aging.
Chiropractic adjustments increase joint mobility and hydrate your joints.
Massage flushes out waste from muscles and stimulates blood flow to improve healing, recovery, and muscle building.
Acupuncture improves nerve communication throughout your system, improving balance and coordination.
While the physical realities of aging can feel like a lot of bad news, it’s not, really. Change your mindset about the loss you’re experiencing. Aging gives us the opportunity to really learn and practice self-care. Not only is self-care healthcare, it is also a form of self-love that makes you love life even more. Take care of yourself no matter your age, and life will be rewarding at every stage.
If you find yourself struggling to recover from your workouts, getting new injuries, or just want help staying active as you heal from an injury, make an appointment. We can help.