This month’s question is asked by reader Kaaren Bennett:
“What happens to your body as you age? I have been fit and active my whole life, but I have noticed that my muscle and skin tone are not as good now that I am in my late 40s.“
Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer
This is a great question and is one I am asked all the time.
After the age of approximately 30 to 35-years your begins to lose muscle, at about the rate of 1% per year. If you have noticed that your muscles and skin tone are not as good, it is because you have lost a good percentage of your muscle that you had when you were younger. Now you need to lift weights and eat more protein to reverse this effect.
Most people who say they have been fit and active their whole life usually spend a lot of time completing cardio type activities such as running, cycling etc., and eating a lot of processed carbohydrate foods to fuel these activities. These type of activities are actually speeding up the process of losing more muscle and are not helping them to gain muscle and the toned appearance that they are searching for.
Significant loss of muscle mass often goes undetected as muscle is often replaced by fat. Lean muscle has been found to be worth as high as 66% of your body’s metabolic process. So having less muscle means you now have a slower metabolism, which, in turn, makes it easier to gain weight and worse still, fat.
Apart from the first concern of aesthetic appearance such as gaining body fat and having flabby arms etc., losing muscle is a much more significant health concern. This lost muscle can lead to things like reduced mobility, increasing the risk of falls and fractures, and reducing independence. I have many clients who started training with me at the age of 40 or 50-years but moved more like someone who was 90-years-old. This is obviously not a good thing. People must make the decision to continually complete a well structured resistance training program and eat a good quality diet that is rich in proteins to ensure that their body’s can live a quality life that they deserve.
Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called No Regrets Personal Training.
Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.
Vanessa Auditore – Human Behaviour and Wellbeing Specialist
What happens to your body as you age?
This is an interesting question and it depends on the person asking it. Factors such as personal histories with regard to health, fitness, nutrition and exercise, as well as lifestyle factors such as alcohol intake, smoking, refined food consumption, stress levels and behaviour and personality tendencies all play a part in determining what happens to your body as you age.
The impact of these factors, over time, become apparent in the human body as we age. Often it isn’t until we get further along in our years that the choices we made in our youth become evident. Therefore, I think it’s more important to focus on repairing what we have now and building from here.
To do this, imagine how you want to live, feel and look in 10, 15, or 20-years from now. Then set about putting a reliable, sustainable plan/s in place. This will ensure your reach your goal over the remainder of your lifespan.
Obviously, in today’s world there are many options for altering what has gone on before. In this case solutions become a personal choice with ‘each to their own’ becoming a catch phrase. I personally think that acceptance is key to continuing to live a life full of vitality, health and wellbeing, and working with what you have.
If you are 40, 50, or 60-years-old imaginee the best version of you there at that age. Don’t compare yourself to a 20-year-old. Just because they may appear smooth skinned doesn’t ensure that they are health internally.
Muscle and skin tone, as well as skin elasticity naturally decreases as we age. This is due to hormonal changes. However, we need not surrender too early to the ageing process as an adequate diet that enhances balanced metabolism, hormone and neurotransmitter function can greatly improve the appearance of skin and slow down the ageing process. Often the signs of ageing are reduced when oxidization and toxin buildup in the body are reduced. Perspiration is also a great way to cleanse the largest organ of the body, the skin, and create optimal oxygenation of the blood, which transports nutrients and eliminates toxins and free radicals that damage the body both inside and out.
Furthermore, exercises that are predominately weight bearing can increase lean muscle and create a look of lean fullness, filling out the skin. It is also important to ensure that you aren’t too thin as this can leave your skin looking saggy and age your beautiful face with gaunt cheeks and sallow skin tone due to the body lacking essential nutrients like essential fats. Add adequate hydration and a good “chemical free” moisturizer along with essential fats your skin, and this can help it to retain high levels of vitality and fullness.
It may also be worth checking your hydration levels to ensure that these are adequate and high enough for your energy output. There is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic. Therefore, finding a personally designed plan is ideal, as one size often does not fit all.
It is also important to note that using weight-bearing exercises decreases risks of osteoporosis as well as enhances function across the whole body spectrum with improved coordination and balance. Plus a strong, fit and healthy lean body has no age limit. So, consider your beliefs about ageing. If they are outdated revamp them, as you have quite a lot of say in how you live your life. And, remember that just because “aunt betty” became frail and lacked vitality in her early 50’s does not mean to say this is what you have to look forward to.
Be aware of exercise, nutrition, hydration, and lifestyle factors such as stress and sleep.
Accept the gifts of every stage of your lifespan and learn to love yourself for who you are.
Change what you find unacceptable, unhealthy or unhelpful.
Enjoy what you have to its fullest everyday and create a positive, fulfilling life that you actually want to live.
Every age in life has its blessings and challenges
Vanessa Auditore has been working in the health and wellness industry since 1998, when she graduated as a master personal trainer. Since then, she has continued her professional development to include transformational life coaching, counsellor QMACA, presenter and lecturer for the Australian fitness industry, expert advice consultant for national magazines including Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Fitness First, Blitz magazine and has developed a successful online presence via the SuccessheadQ blog. In addition, Vanessa features regularly as a guest on many Australian based health and wellbeing blogs, and has also competed in natural figure competitions, at a national level. Vanessa is continuing to expand her academic pursuits with a double degree in behavioural science and communication and media, and is applying her expertise to achieve personal goals by integrating holistic practices.