We all want to age gracefully, healthily and live life to the fullest. To do this we must first understand how our body and mind change both physiologically and psychologically as we age.
Preparing for retirement and new challenges in your 60's
Retirement means a new beginning. You are now comfortable with work and may be looking for challenges and have more time pursuing hobbies and interests that you had no time for earlier in life. Travelling the world feels "freer" with no urgent work or family commitments.
This new found freedom brings with it the realisation that you are now living in a different body. Physiological changes hit you without prior notice and you feel that you are not in control of you body.
What happens to your 60 year old body?
Reduction in the performance of heart function is inevitable due to structural changes caused by the gradual loss of muscle fibres of the heart. The amount of blood pumped by the heart diminishes by 50% between the age of 20 and 90 days with huge individual differences depending on how the body was treated in its earlier years. On a positive note, it is possible for an 80 year old to have cardiac function similar to an average 40 year old if you start living a healthy lifestyle at an early age.
Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) may become more evident with blood vessels showing less elasticity and this can lead to a gradual increase in blood pressure.
Digestive enzymes decrease with age and your body will not be shy in giving you immediate signals if certain foods do not agree with your system.
Incidences of osteoporosis may rise as bones lose calcium. Aches and pains in muscles and joints are a part of life. Prevention of falls become an important objective of exercise at this age.
What healthy habits look like now?
It is becoming more important to focus on high quality, nutrient-rich nutrition to meet various health challenges.
Quality Omega-3 fatty acids can help with inflammation and pain. A good source of Omega-3 can be found in wild salmon and flex seeds. As Omega-6 fatty acids as the opposite effect of Omega-3 and thus can cause inflammation, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is important in the alleviation of inflammation and pain.
Adding a digestive enzyme like probiotic will improve digestive health as will making a fibre supplement a daily essential.
Choose exercises that do not place pressure on lower body joints such as rowing and cycling. Aim to improve flexibility, mobility, balance (prevent falls), maintain bone density (weight bearing exercises). Yoga and Tai Chi are the best choice where recovery sessions should take the form of water jogging and swimming.
Your 70 year old body
You are becoming more conscious of your health and find simple pleasures in life. There are a lot of health, fitness and nutrition opportunities as you have more time to explore and experiment.
Physically, muscle and bone mass disappear, falls become more common and daily tasks can become intimidating. Digestive function continues to decrease and with accompanying oral health issues will bring about changed food choices.
Maintaining an active lifestyle, a sense of connection and community are essential at this age. Having a purpose in life is crucial now as research has shown that inactivity and loss of sense of meaning have a direct adverse effect on health.
Eat small nutrient rich meals and make supplements a regular daily routine for functional health. Exercises should involve socialising and relationship building.
If we make healthy choices earlier in life, we will be able to age gracefully, lower the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic or fatal diseases.
Do not wait any longer, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call to discuss your health and fitness goals no matter what your age is. It is never to too early or too late to live a healthy lifestyle. Change your body now to prepare for the future.
The writer is the holder of Precision Nutrition (US) Level I Certification and a Certificate in Sports Nutrition.