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Some effects of aging and strategies for a better life.

So you’ve gone past 50 and you’re feeling not quite as strong or as flexible as you used to be. Well that’s not surprising and you’re not alone.

Research* shows that muscle atrophy (wasting away) appears to be inevitable. A gradual loss of muscle fibres begins at around 50 years of age and continues from there. By 80 years of age, approximately half of the fibres are lost.

Furthermore, the degree of atrophy of the fibres that remain is largely dependent on the habitual level of physical activity of the individual.

The good news is that even sedentary people who undertake a well-designed, carefully administered training program can slow down age-associated atrophy, weakness and fatigability. This is very important for those who wish to maintain a more healthy, independent and active lifestyle as aging continues.

What does this all mean? Well, if you haven’t been doing much in the way of regular exercise, I strongly encourage you to begin sooner rather than later.

Today would be good.

Making 3 or 4 sessions of yoga a part of your weekly schedule is very good. Yoga is both stretching and strengthening for your muscles and even improves cardiac fitness as you will discover. Pilates is also good as it tai chi, gym work, etc. etc. Even just walking for half an hour or more 4 or 5 times per week is way ahead of doing nothing and has virtually no cost. (See below for additional info on how to walk with others in a safe environment at no cost.)

Some words of caution.

Particularly if you have not exercised much in life or not very much over recent years, then it is absolutely crucial that you take it slow and easy to start with and only gradually increase. Going too hard or fast to start out with is likely to cause a muscle or ligament strain and put you out of action for weeks or even months. The idea is to get the exercise happening to a small degree so that you don’t get injured or exhaust yourself and are able to keep your program going over the longer term. This is a change in habit and lifestyle, not a race to the finish and then over with.

How to make the transition to regular exercise so much smoother.

Even if you take appropriate care when beginning your exercise program, at some stage you may notice some pain or stiffness in your muscles, spine or pelvic area. Or you may feel excessive pain and/or stiffness the next day after you exercise. These are likely signs of musculo-skeletal problems that would benefit from professional help.

Network chiropractic , a relatively gentle form of chiropractic, with no cracking or crunching of the joints, works powerfully and deeply to correct both the muscles and the spine in one process. Network has been shown to be highly beneficial in dealing with pain, stiffness, headaches, fatigue and many other issues.

Safe, no cost walking.

Inside the Dandenong plaza, Thursday morning, at 7.30 am to 8.30 am, there is a walking group that caters for those starting out right through to power walkers. This is a very good way to get started with at least some exercise. You can call the Plaza customer service on 9767 2000 or go to www.dandenongplaza.com.au then click on clubs and Plaza Pacers.

And inside Parkmore shopping centre there is another walking group that starts at 7.30 on Tuesday morning. This walk is run by staff from Springers Leisure centre. You can phone them on 9701 5900. They also have regular exercise programs and those designed for seniors (you may have to pay for this). You can also obtain info about the walk from Parkmore customer service located near the central food court.

Depending on your location you could even do both of these walks. And because the walk is inside the shopping centres, there is no problem with rain or cold weather.

*Age-related changes in the structure and function of skeletal muscles. – Faulkner JA – Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol – 01-NOV-2007; 34(11): 1091-6

Category: Effects of aging