By| Published: July 8th, 2016
Our bones and muscles reach their maximum mass at about age 30. They slowly shrink in size and density, as we get older. Additionally, the gel-like disks between the vertebrae of our spine become thinner.
Skeletal and Muscular Changes
- Bone size and density decreases, as we get older
- The average person loses 1.5-3 inches in height over a lifetime
- Bones become weaker and more prone to fracture due to gradual loss of density
- Women are more likely to lose bone mass, especially in the years immediately after menopause
- Muscle tissue (muscle mass) also tends to decrease
- Muscles, tendons and joints also lose some strength and flexibility
- Joint changes ranging from minor stiffness to severe arthritis may develop
- The cartilage lining the joints may become thinner
- The joint surfaces may not slide over each other as well as they used to
What we can do
Strength and Resistance Training
Walking and weight lifting help strengthen and preserve our bones. Swimming and water aerobics are easy on the joints for people with arthritis.
Tai chi, Yoga and Pilates
Tai chi helps improve balance, Yoga increase muscle flexibility and strength, and Pilates are designed to strengthen the body’s core muscles.
Protein helps slow age-related muscle loss. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for building and sustaining bone mass.
Smoking not only speeds up bone loss but also interferes with calcium absorption.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can hasten bone loss.
Practise programs that teach you how to relax your muscles. They can also help ease back, neck and shoulder pain.
Loss of strength and muscle has as much to do with inactivity as it does age. If we continue to lead an active life, we can maintain much of the muscle strength that we enjoyed in our youth. Taking care of our bones, muscles and joints throughout our life is key to lessening the impact of age-related muscular and skeletal changes.