How Does Our Body Change as We Age?
Aging is the great inevitably that comes to all of us, but it doesn’t have to be something to dread.
It’s an inescapable fact that as we age our bodies begin to show signs of all the years we’ve lived through. Wrinkles and loose skin are all visible effects, but the signs of aging run more than just skin deep.
Aging affects every part of our body both internally and externally, and each of these parts also ages at a different rate from one another. Below, we’ll explain in a little more detail about how the aging process affects different parts of our body.
As we age, our skin begins to lose some of the components that keep it strong and healthy, such as subcutaneous fat cells, hair follicles, and skin cells. This means that the skin begins to become thinner and loses its insulating properties. It is also why why you may find yourself feeling a little colder than you used to.
Another thing that our skin suffers from as we age is a loss of ability to heal quickly. This is due to a slowing down of our circulation, meaning that there is less blood flow to the wound and the wound takes longer to heal.
Bones and our Skeleton
The main effect of aging on the skeletal system is a loss of bone matter. Known as Osteoporosis, this affects people in different ways and it may cause a lot of pain in some people, while others may not be affected by it all. Osteoporosis is also a lot more common in women than it is in men.
Another sign of aging on the skeletal system is the loosening on cartilage around joints and a reduced level of the lubricating fluid that helps keep them functioning healthily.
As we age our muscle cells begin to break down and this leads to a decrease in strength. Muscle loss can be permanent or temporary, however, you can maintain your strength levels and prevent muscle cell loss through regular strength training.
Strength training helps to build muscles by causing microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. As these tears heal, cells located on the outside of the muscles activate, join together to repair the damage and increase the strength of the muscle.
Our muscles are the main tools we have for ensuring there is a strong circulation of blood around our system, so if muscle cell levels begin to fade, the more chance we have of developing issues such as high cholesterol, strokes, and heart attacks.
We also begin to lose irreplaceable brain cells as we grow older. This leads to a loss of taste, sense of smell, eyesight, and our hearing sensitivity begins to deteriorate as well.
All of these affect our ability to read clearly, communicate effectively, and carry on with our daily activities. This includes driving, carrying out certain household chores, and the ease with which we operate appliances and technology.
The risk of developing certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Huntington’s, and Parkinson’s begins to increase as we age as well. Sadly, the majority of these have no cure, so preventing them through a healthy lifestyle is the best chance we have of not developing them in the first place.
Delaying the Effects of Aging on Our Bodies
We don’t have to resign ourselves to any of the issues listed above as we grow older, and all of them can be delayed significantly with a little effort.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the most powerful weapons available to us and will work wonders towards keeping our bodies feeling younger for longer.
They are also a sure-fire way to ward off any age-related diseases, prevent us from having to rely on medication, and ensure that we have long-lived, healthy lives.
What's the biggest part of our health to monitor as we age?
While younger people might feel the need to concentrate on one particular aspect of their health such as building strength or increasing their endurance levels, it isn’t quite so specific for the older generation.
There isn’t really one part of your health to keep a close eye on as you get older. Instead, it’s much more important to focus on your overall health as the main goal. This is because, as we age, your health and fitness levels begin to deteriorate as a whole (albeit at different rates).
A mixture of cardiovascular exercise and strength training paired with a healthy, nutritious diet is the best way to keep your overall health in good condition. This works towards delaying any natural age-related health issues, but also helps to keep certain diseases at bay.
Of course, if you’ve been directed by a physician to focus on one aspect of your health such as weight loss or reducing your cholesterol levels, then you must follow their advice. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will significantly reduce your chances of needing to visit a doctor in the first instance.
Dr Nicole Panethere, Help and Wellness.com