Why Harder When Older?

Kaj at Malibu

KJ in Malibu – Photo by Susana Jewell

Why is it harder to get in shape or stay in shape as we age?

By 2030, there will be about 71.5 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000. Folks over 65 represented 12.4% of the population in 2000, and are expected to grow to 20% by 2030. The 85+ population is projected to increase from 4.6 million in 2002 to 9.6 million in 2030.

Some of many common characteristics of aging may include:

• Loss of muscle strength due partly to declining muscle mass, which in turn is due to aging and inactivity (known as sarcopenia)

• Increasing percentage of body fat (known as creeping obesity), which is partly due to a slowing of the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate is the total number of calories that your body needs to perform basic, life-sustaining functions. These basal functions include circulation, breathing, cell production, nutrient processing, etc.) as well as increasing inactivity. So as we age we can move less, and gain weight by trying to eat the same way we did at the age of 21.

• Declining flexibility, (particularly in the inactive) due to connective tissue changes in the muscles, ligaments, joint capsules and tendons.

It should be noted that several researchers are currently examining how much of the above factors are due to the natural aging process versus how much are contributed by inactivity.

So we’re living longer, and we need to enjoy these up-coming years. What’s the plan?

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendation, older adults should be encouraged to be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.

So what to do?

Whatever you do, try to avoid Too Much Too Soon. Do the opposite – A tiny little bit each day. The activity should be accessible, (in your own home or neighborhood is great), convenient and enjoyable. Put some music on! Walking is excellent, water exercise, stationary cycling is good too.

In my sessions, I try to create programs my clients can do in their own homes, with things they have around the house, without even having to get dressed for the day. No health club to go to, just enjoying your own home on your own schedule so that it’s doable at the drop of a hat….and it has to be FUN!