We are taught from a young age to value youth, especially in women. Women are constantly being sold anti-aging products and programs to help them hold onto what remains of their perceived “youthful glow”. That glow is actually just a sign of good health- much like a wet nose on a dog- and to preserve our health, it comes down to simple science we’ve all been told for years. Eating right, keeping healthy, and remaining active is imperative for our health, but especially as we age and our bodies go through changes both physical and mental. Everything from memory loss to light bladder leaks can be linked to overall health, and being active can help prevent and relieve issues.
What Changes as We Age?
We certainly know to expect changes as we age – hair loss, wrinkles, lots of naps, the usual. According to an article by UC San Diego, there are nine changes that happen to us as we age, and some are sort of unexpected. They include the following:
- Sweat less – the glands under our arms have been found to shrink and become less sensitive as we age, meaning less sweat is produced. This is especially true for those who have been through menopause as women during this period sweat more than normal, so in comparison, the lack of pit stains are a welcome change.
- Loss of Muscles Mass – starting in as early as our 30’s we begin to lose muscle mass. By the age of 75, the average person’s fat content is more than double what it was in their youth.
- Teeth Lose Sensitivity – dentin, the hard inner tissue – is built up between the outer enamel of a tooth and its central nerve, reducing sensitivity over time.
- Our Brains are Smaller – prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, both important to learning, memory, planning and other complex mental activities, have both notably been found to shrink as we age.
- Stronger Immune System – we fight off a lot of sniffles, coughs, and colds during our lifetime, which may not seem like a positive at the time, but you’re actually helping your body build its immune system.
- Fewer Migraines – if you’re a woman suffering from chronic migraines, the upshot is that after menopause they may be a thing of the past. The article suggests 67 percent of female migraine sufferers get permanent relief after menopause due to changes in hormone levels.
- Our Taste Goes Away – by the time we are 60, most people have lost half of their taste buds. This is why some argue that older people overcompensate with sweets or salty snacks.
- Hearing Loss – around 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 experience hearing loss, and the odds only increase as we age. People usually begin to lose their hearing around the age of 20.
- Feel Happier – research suggests people’s overall feeling of contentedness and happiness is a U-shaped curve. The same way we feel happy with our lives as children, older people have the same feeling.
Why Being Active is Important
When it comes to staying active as we age, there is research and science to back up the benefits of keeping up with light to moderate exercise. This report on exercise for older adults from the CDC outlines the benefits of exercise as we age, both physical and mental.
- Helps maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones.
- Reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.
- Can help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension.
- Helps people with chronic, disabling conditions improve their stamina and muscle strength.
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and fosters improvements in mood and feelings of well-being.
- Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
- Helps control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis.
Ways to Stay Active
It’s clear that staying active as we age is vital to maintaining overall health and wellness, both inside and out. But how do we stay active? While you can always workout at home, plenty of health insurance companies offer gym memberships for older adults or discounted memberships. Here are some great ways to stay active at the gym or at home:
Walking – Walking is a great way to stay active, engage muscles, and spend some time outside. Plus walking may help reduce your risk of developing a disability. A study from the University of Georgia in 2008 found that regular walking reduced elderly adults’ risk of developing a physical disability by 41%.
Yoga – In Western culture, we are widely known to practice Hatha Yoga, the system of bodily postures. But yoga is primarily a spiritual discipline. The bodily postures that we practice in our hot yoga session or off a YouTube video have been found to have many benefits including reduced stress, increased relaxation and greater flexibility. It has continued to grow through American gyms as something that cultivates aerobic capacity and builds strength.
Biking – Dig out that old bike from the garage and oil it up, because biking has plenty of benefits for our health as we age including preserved strength, constant body fat levels, and improved cholesterol levels.
Cleaning – Cleaning the house is basically killing two birds with one stone. All of that lifting, scrubbing, and sweeping can burn some serious calories. Plus, at the end, your house will be sparkling!
For around 1 in 3 women in the US, Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) prevents or inhibits healthy physical activity. SUI is the involuntary loss of urine when the bladder or urinary tract is put under pressure or “stress”. SUI occurs due to the weakening of the pelvic floor, which is the collection of muscles and tissue that control the flow of urine. Now there is a new reusable bladder support device made for women called Revive® that is available over-the-counter at retailers nationwide. Revive® is inserted like a tampon for up to 12 hours a day of leak protection. The device is made out of soft, flexible silicone designed to move with women’s bodies so you can stay active. Find a retailer near you!