The aging process can be slowed |

The aging process can be slowed

Jerry Vance

It’s a fact – we get a little older every day. How we decide to handle aging is important. Having good health is the beginning.

Without good mental and physical health, life would lose a whole lot of its appeal. However, the total aging process is more than maintaining good health. It is accepting it, enjoying it, and most of all, understanding it.

Here are a few of the important factors regarding the aging process: As you age, there are changes in muscle mass within the body and increases in amounts of body fat. Aging causes changes in bone mineral content, decreases the BMI (body mass index), and causes a loss in total activity. Lower caloric intake from a reduction in activity lowers the ingestion of needed vitamins. All of these basic health structures lead to less movement and the downward spiral of health.

Statistics show that women over age 70 are seldom able to lift a 10-pound weight. Muscle mass deteriorates 1 percent per year for each year over the age of 20, leaving you with less ability for endurance or muscle strength.

The next extremely important factor concerns bone mass. Between the ages of 20 and 30, bone mass starts to decline, and at menopause, women begin a rapid loss in bone mass. By age 70, a loss of 30 percent of the bone mass is not uncommon. Building bone – compact bone which makes up about 80 percent of total bone mass – should be started by age 11. That means proper nutrition for building bone, and proper exercise for muscle and bone building when you’re young.

Several factors decide the body’s skeletal formation. Gender, heredity, race, estrogen status, body type, nutrition, activity patterns, smoking habits and medication. Work with the factors you can change. Nutrition and activity are keys to building and maintaining your bone mass. Weakened bone structures are susceptible to fractures and further loss of activity.

Lifetime calcium habits can change these depressing downward spirals.

Vitamin D aids calcium absorption, exercise enhances calcium absorption and enhances bone growth, getting your exercise outdoors will add to the absorption of vitamin D. Finally, weight-bearing exercise increases bone density, thus creating a stronger, heavier bone structure.

Add it all up, and exercise combined with good nutrition can increase the physical activity in the older generation, and add to life expectancies during the advanced ages.

• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.