You already know that aging is inevitable, but do you know how the resulting changes in your body affect your training goals and overall level of health? If you're nearing or in your 40s, read on to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about training in the prime of your life.
Q. How does the body change with age?
Some of the most noticeable changes that occur during the aging process include decreases in skin elasticity, energy levels, and metabolism, and an increased risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. Inactive individuals will also notice a loss of strength. David Guzman, an ACSM- and ACE-certified personal trainer at Method Fitness in New York City, says: "After age 30, skeletal muscle mass begins to decline. The loss of strength with aging is primarily due to a loss of muscle mass, which, in turn, is caused by the loss of muscle fibers and a decrease in size of the remaining fibers."
Q. What causes decreased skin elasticity, and how can it be prevented?
“Most women will notice decreased skin elasticity during menopause, which usually occurs in their 50s. Loss of estrogen is the primary cause of these changes; about 30 percent is lost during the first five years postmenopause. This is followed by a decline of approximately 2 percent per year for a 10-year span,” explains Jaci VanHeest, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut (Storrs).
Before you reach menopause, take good care of your skin to avoid any drastic changes. "Avoiding excessive sun exposure and staying well-hydrated are two important things you can do to maintain skin elasticity," notes Sheri Barke, MPH, a registered dietitian in private practice in Southern California and a faculty member of the UCLA Extension's Fitness Certificate Program