The Natural Decline
New research seems to reveal that when you are in your fifties, many people begin experiencing a decline in some of the following areas:
- Our balance
- Walking speed
- With flexibility
- Our muscle strength will also start to decline in middle age if we aren’t weightlifting.
It seems that men typically perform better than women. However, the physical decline seemed to begin for both genders in their fifties. People in their sixties and seventies started showing a slower walking speed as well as a drop in aerobic endurance. As people are in their eighties and nineties, they are experiencing significant declines in their walking speed, lower body strength, aerobic endurance, and balance.
Our general fitness isn’t always something that is tested or discussed as middle-aged people visit the doctor. Anything is going to show wear, and we cannot expect our bodies not to do the same. The severity and rate of decline seem to be based on a persons lifestyle with how sedentary or active each person is in their daily life.
Declines in muscle strength and bone mass start to occur in our thirties. These changes eventually cause loss of lower body strength, balance and impact our walking gait and speed. Don’t wait until you recognize there is a decline to try to do something about it. We all know that decreases in out fitness level are going to happen and they impact our function and health.
Fight The Decline
It is essential to build and maintain your fitness level. Taking care of your body can help you keep health, fight disease, physical and cognitive decline. Just as you prepare for retirement, taking care of your body can help you be better prepared to hold onto function and health as you age as gracefully as possible. It is not too late to begin exercising and moving to improve your health and fitness. The sooner you do begin exercising, the better your returns on health will be.
Physical activity on a regular basis can change the outcome of age-related declines by holding onto more muscle strength, balance, endurance, and mobility. Each person’s lifestyle can significantly impact the rate at which these declines take place.
Develop An Exercise Plan
If you’re going to be dedicated to slowing down these declines, you need to begin a consistent exercise plan which will help you work on:
In each decade of our lives, be sure to add an aerobic program such as walking, bicycling, swimming or using a cardio machine. Aerobic exercises need to be completed several times a week.
In addition to aerobic exercise, add the following …
During your fifties
Work on maintaining muscle strength. Work on your entire body, however, be sure to focus on your lower extremities too as they decrease first. Throw in working on your core strength also as it’s only going to help you hold onto your fitness longer.
During your sixties and seventies
Make an intentional decision to walk more frequently. Also, practice faster walking and a comfortable speed as well as working on your balance. There are simple exercises such as standing on one foot, sitting in a chair and lifting legs and classes you can take such as Pilates or Yoga which have many health and fitness benefits.
After you reach eighty and for as long as you can
Make sure you enjoy whatever you are doing. It should make you feel better. It could be walking or swimming. Practice balance exercises that you are comfortable with safely by using a counter or wall or with a trainer to assist you. Some people in their 80’s exhibit better balance and fitness than some people in their sixties who have always had a sedentary lifestyle.
Our bodies like to be challenged. It is still not too late to start exercising to make a change and improve your fitness level now and in the future.