Effects of Aging and How to Counteract Them
“Getting old is not fun.” I can’t tell you how many times patients have told me this as we are doing an exercise in therapy. Unfortunately, it’s true. It is inevitable that our bodies will deteriorate as we age. However, there are steps that we can take to counteract the effects that aging has on our muscles, bones, and joints.
As we age, our muscles begin to shrink and lose mass as well as elasticity and flexibility. Tendons (which connect our muscles to our bones) and ligaments (which connect our bones to other bones) also become less elastic and can make our joints tight and stiff. Our bones become less dense and more fragile as they age, which increases the risk for fractures. The cartilage between the bones in our joints degenerates and becomes thinner and less smooth and can develop into arthritis.
Whenever our joints lack flexibility, mobility, or strength we are more susceptible to pain and injury, but we can slow the effect that again has on our bodies simply by staying active. If we lead sedentary lives, our muscles and bones will lose their strength faster and our joints will become stiffer, but if we lead more active lives, our muscles and bones will maintain their strength better and our joints will remain more flexible and mobile. Staying active can even help prevent the degeneration of cartilage by keeping the joints well lubricated.
We shouldn’t wait until we start to notice the effects of aging on our joints to start being active, though. Instead, we should make being active part of our routine while we are younger in order to get the most benefit from it. When starting a new exercise routine, it is always best to start light and see how our bodies tolerate the new exercise before progressing to something more difficult.
If you are unsure what exercises you should be doing, a physical therapist can help create a routine that will be safe for your fitness level. Visit https://www.aptclinics.com/locations to find one of our locations near you and give us a call!
Content provided by Myranda Griebel, PTA