Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We All Get Older

In just a little over a month, I will turn a half century old! Yes, I admit it! As hard as I've tried to deny it, I will be the BIG 50! Don't laugh! Many of my friends are already there! I used to say that I would not age gracefully, but rather would fight it every step of the way. However, as it approaches, I have taken on a new stance: I will accept it and try to age with dignity, remaining as healthy as possible. I have already reconciled in my mind that I am not 19 or 20 or even 25 anymore and no matter how hard I work out, I will never look 19, 20, or 25 again. But I can try to look and feel my best despite the aging process.

As we age, nature takes its course and slows us down. From the time we're born, our bodies begin wasting away. That process is however, accelerated later in life, particularly after age 50. This change in our bodies happens not only in individual cells, but within entire organs. The result is a change in our bodily function and appearance. One area hit by the aging process is our muscles and amount of fat. The amount of muscle tissue (muscle mass) and muscle strength tend to decrease. This process is called sarcopenia, which literally means loss of flesh. Loss of muscle mass begins around age 30 and continues throughout life, and by age 75, the percentage of muscle mass is typically half of what it was during young adulthood. Also, by age 75, the percentage of body fat typically doubles compared with what it was during young adulthood. So what to do? Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can strengthen muscles and partially overcome or significantly delay loss of muscle mass and strength.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) now has fitness guidelines specific to weight training for people over 50. The advice: perform such exercises 2 to 3 times a week to condition all of the major muscle groups -- arms, legs, shoulders, and trunk. The goal is to lift a weight that's heavy enough to achieve 10 to 15 repetitions per session before the muscles become fatigued. In addition, like everyone, those over the age of 50 also need regular aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or running, to strengthen their heart and lungs and tone their bodies. But those over 50 should never dismiss weight training as only something for younger people.

So turn off the television, get off your sofa, get moving, and add a little weight training to your regiment.


mommanator said...

One advantage of living in Fla where I live- iwalk a few tiimes a day! and feel better for it

Karl said...

Cool! Every little bit helps!