What Happens to Our Bodies as we Age?

As we age we start to notice gray hairs, wrinkles, and more aches and pains. But what else happens to our bodies as we grow older? Our immune system weakens, our bones and muscles shrink in size, strength, and density, and our cardiovascular and metabolism undergo changes.

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Immune System

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Our immune system helps fight bacteria, viruses and toxins amongst other things. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, as we age our immune system becomes slower thus increasing our risk of getting sick and our ability to heal our bodies.

In order to maintain a strong immune system, it’s important get plenty of exercise and to eat healthy nutritious foods to keep your system functioning properly and at a high level.

Check out this list of foods to permote a healthy and strong immune system.

Cardiovascular System

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According to the Mayoclinic, the most common change in the cardiovascular system is stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.

According to WebMd, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., that’s why we preach a healthy diet and exercise at Repke Fitness. Our goal is not only to help our clients lose weight but to also educate them on the importance of diet and exercise.

Including physical activity and eating a diet full of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and high-fiber foods is important in order to help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Not only that, but the importance of sleep cannot be underestimated. Getting enough sleep is crucial in reducing stress placed on the heart and allowing your body to heal and recover.

Check out this chart to make sure you’re getting enough sleep!

Bones, Joints, & Muscles

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According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, as we age the structures of our body undergo major changes.

  • Changes in posture and gait leading to increased risk of loss of balance and falls
  • Bones become brittle and weak
  • Weakened muscles
  • Vertebrae weaken and thin
  • Spinal column becomes compressed
  • Joints become stiff and less flexible leading to pain and inflammation
  • Fluid in joints decreases
  • Cartilage begin to rub together and cause pain
  • Lean body mass decreases
  • Muscles atrophy
  • Fat begins to deposit in muscle tissue as muscle fibers shrink
  • Bones become

In order to prevent muscle atrophy, weak bones, and increased risk of falls, exercising on a regular basis will lead to higher bone density and strength, stronger muscles, and better coordination and balance. We like to incorporate a safe and well-rounded exercise program for our clients in order to ensure they’re accomplishing their goals while also allowing them to accomplish daily activities they perform on a regular basis.

Here are some guidelines for healthy bone and muscle development given by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.

In addition to exercise, it’s important to make sure you’re taking your medications as prescribed by your doctors. For instance, if you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, your doctor may prescribe you supplements.

The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily for adults. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg daily for women age 51 and older and men age 71 and older. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon and tofu.

Furthermore, getting adequate amounts of vitamin D is also important. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over 70. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight.

Other sources include tuna, salmon, eggs, vitamin D-fortified milk and vitamin D supplements.

Weight and Metabolism

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According to National Institute of Health, our metabolism is the process of using the food we eat to turn it into energy.

As we age, many people think our metabolism slows down due to age, but in reality it’s due to inactivity and decreased muscle mass. Think of it like this, when we’re young we’re always on the go, playing outside, sports, playing on our bike, etc. Due to this high activity level our bodies need more energy (food) to properly function. However, as we start to get older, many people stop exercising and their muscle mass decreases and body fat increases. Their activity level significantly drops, yet they continue to eat as if they we’re young. Because of the decreased activity level, our bodies don’t need as much energy (food) to function.

That’s why it’s important to include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and increase muscle mass.

While incorporating both strength training, eating a healthy diet full of whole foods and low amounts of sugar and foods in high saturated fats, and making sure you stay hydrated you can make great strides in maintaining a health weight and enjoying life.