Three ways to slow down the ageing process
It’s an inescapable fact – we are all getting older. And while you can’t stop the march of years, it is possible to slow down the effects of ageing; allowing you to make the most of your life for longer…
As we age three things happen to our bodies:
1 Loss of lean muscle mass
2 Increased difficulty losing weight
3 Loss of bone strength
Sounds dismal, but with informed diet and exercise choices we can slow these processes and delay their effects. Here’s how…
First up, loss of muscle mass. Between the ages of 25 and 65, people lose about five pounds of lean muscle mass each decade, with this process accelerating after the age of 60. As we age, our muscles lose their ability to respond to growth-encouraging substances, including insulin. And this can lead to insulin resistance – a contributing factor in obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
To prevent this:
- Switch from processed to unprocessed carbohydrates (ditch the white bread and white rice for wholegrains) to stabilise your blood sugar and avoid insulin resistance.
- Make sure you consume two to three portions of oily fish per week (try mackerel or freshwater salmon). This will keep cells healthy and ensure the required nutrients get where they need to go. The extra Omega 3 will also regulate hormone production. If you’re vegetarian, algae is an effective solution.
- Munch colourful fruit and vegetables for extra antioxidants: think bright and deep colours and make sure you’re having five to seven portions a day.
Next, the increased difficulty to shift the pounds. After the age of 25, with each passing decade, you experience a 2-4% decline in your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).
To prevent RMR decline, start an exercise regime pronto. Developing a regular habit (be it walking, swimming, yoga, cycling…) will help you retain muscle mass as you get older, and improve joint health too.
And finally, loss of bone strength. A natural consequence of ageing is that our hormone production decreases. The onset of menopause (for women), which includes the decrease in oestrogen production, starts at an average age of 51. The male decline in testosterone production (andropause) begins after the age of 30, decreasing at a rate of 1% per year. And an important side effect of this decrease in hormonal output is increased risk of osteoporosis, or a loss of bone strength.
Weight-bearing and resistance training using movements that ‘load the bone along the length’ will prevent osteoporosis. Choose exercises that use more than one joint, or involve complex movements, like squatting with light weights. Resistance training will decrease bone loss as you age, as well as increase your metabolism – helping control weight, and retain muscle mass.
Tips courtesy of James Staring, personal trainer at Fit to Last, fittolast.co.uk