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Health is Ageless: A guide to staying healthy in later years

As we get older, the one consistent factor of life is change. Ageing is something we all face, but ageing comes with a set of health-related changes and challenges that we all have to face. As we age, it becomes harder to maintain our physical health and stay flexible, supple and mobile. But you are not powerless against the forces of ageing, and with a little work and dedication, it’s possible to mitigate and avoid some of the worst consequences of ageing. In this blog, I’d like to examine what practical steps we can take to age as gracefully as possible and stay mobile in our later years.

The benefits of staying fit in later life

Ageing gracefully isn’t just about appearances, it’s about maintaining quality of life. The ability to move freely and without pain is essential to our independence and quality of life. Studies have highlighted that those of us with greater mobility experience a better quality of life. Chronic conditions such as arthritis which makes mobility difficult can have serious long-term consequences if these conditions render you immobile. As we get older it’s vital that we take time to engage in physical activity that strengthens our bones, muscles, joints and tendons. Without proper care and attention, our bodies find it harder to get mobile and stay active, so it’s important we make practical steps as early as possible to ensure that movement is as easy as possible in later life. 

Supporting our bone structure

As we get older our bones lose density which can leave them brittle and prone to injury, especially if you develop bone-thinning conditions such as osteoporosis. Our bones are the supporting structure of our bodies and weak bones can lead to bad posture which can put pressure on your internal organs. Broken bones can be devastating at an older age and can take much longer to heal than when we are young, so it’s vital to take what steps we can to support our bone structure. Make sure you are absorbing the right nutrients and vitamins to promote healthy bone growth, you can read more on this over on our blog about eating well for mobility

Muscles

Over time as we get older our muscles also lose some of their strength and flexibility which can make it harder to engage in exercise and also puts more pressure on your bones. It’s important to make sure you are doing enough strength-based training to ensure that your muscles are regularly used. Low-impact exercises are a great way of engaging in strength training whilst also protecting yourself from potential injury caused by exercise, you can read more about low-impact exercise over at our blog

Joints and tendons

Flexibility is key to being able to move. As we get older a range of factors can make it harder to stay supple and flexible as we get older. Our joints and tendons allow our bones to move together without friction or discomfort and are vital to moving without pain. It’s important that we make sure to regularly stretch and exercise our joints and limbs to keep them flexible and maintain our range of motion. Stretching is vital not just for our joints and tendons but also helps to prepare our bodies for exercise and can help prevent injury during physical activity. 

Dynamic stretching is a good low-risk option for those who want to get their joints moving without risk of pain and discomfort, you can find out more about dynamic stretches over on our blog. Activities such as yoga and tai chi can also offer a safe way of moving your body is a slow and controlled manner, which can help strengthen muscles and joints and leave you less prone to injury during exercise. 

Getting moving and breathing

Strengthening our bodies leaves us in a safer position to engage in exercise without fear of injury. It’s also vital that as we get older, we engage in cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise involves any form of exercise that increases our breathing rate. As we breathe heavily, our bodies pump blood around our bodies which provides oxygen to the places it is most important. This flow of blood allows us to keep our arteries clear and keeps our blood pressure at a reasonable level.

 Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial in preventing serious health problems such as heart disease. Regular aerobic exercise is an effective way to prevent weight gain. Preventing weight gain is important as we get older and excess body fat can put strain on our muscles and joints as they support our body. Excess pressure on our joints can lead to pain and discomfort when moving and can also put extra pressure on our hearts. 

The mind and body connection

Exercise and mental health go hand in hand. When we exercise our bodies produce endorphins which make us feel positive. Studies have shown that older people who exercise at least 4 times a week show improvement when suffering conditions such as anxiety and depression. Exercise can also help contribute to a better night’s sleep, which a study at Harvard University suggests may lower your risk of conditions such as dementia. 

As we know, not engaging in exercise for a prolonged period can make it harder to get back into regular physical activity which can leave you feeling powerless to move and stay independent. Studies have shown that loss of independence of movement can seriously contribute to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Therefore as we get older it’s vital not just for our physical wellbeing but our mental wellbeing. Engaging in physical activity as part of a group is a great way of getting active and reinforcing social connections. Look into local exercise groups in your area to find like-minded individuals who can help motivate and encourage you towards your fitness goals. 

Conclusion

Ageing is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be synonymous with decline. Maintaining our mobility is key to remaining independent and free to engage in your later years with full force. It’s never too late to make positive changes to your routine. Start small by setting mobility goals that you’d like to achieve, whether that’s a mile jog, or just getting up the stairs with limited discomfort or pain. Don’t overwork your body and bear in mind that a small amount of regular exercise is far better than tiring yourself out once in a while. Make sure you’re supporting your body with a varied and nutrient-rich diet, which will help keep your bones and body strong and reduce your risk of injury. It won’t take long for you to notice the benefits of even just a little extra movement every day.

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