As we age, our bodies change, and we find ourselves struggling with issues we didn’t even think about 10 years before. Part of this change includes the transformation of our lifestyles, including our social lives, eating habits, and exercise routines. The difference in eating behaviours can be a result of many things, such as; an increased/ decreased appetite, a new living space or a decrease/ loss of taste.
Assessing Your Appetite:
When trying to assess your appetite, it is best to look back at how your eating has changed over the last few years. Think back to two years ago – what, and how much did you eat? Are you eating the same kinds of food, and are you eating the same volume of food? If not – why not?
Make a list of what differences there are in your life – did you move, or lose a loved one? Did you used to cook, and now have meals delivered?
Take a look at this list and analyse what you see. Do you think you eat better now than you did two years ago? If so – well done. If not – what are the reasons?
If it’s because you have moved, or lost a loved one, have you spoken to someone (be it a psychologist, counsellor, religious leader) about your feelings? Emotional strain is often reflected in our eating behaviours, as when we are hurting, we often tend to adjust our eating, without realising it. We feel nauseous, have stomach cramps, lose our appetite, or even overeat, all as a way of trying to hide our emotions. This uncontrolled eating behaviour can be detrimental to our health – Overeating may result in gaining weight, which could result in an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. While under-eating can cause someone to lose weight, become frail, which could result in a falling and serious injury.
Ballerinas, tight rope walkers, ice skaters… they seem to have such poise and a natural balance that most of us dont possess. But I want to share a secret with you today… That balance comes from lots and lots of practice. Which shows us that while our balance can worsen with age and different conditions that we cant avoid, it can also improve with practice.
WHAT IS BALANCE?
For one to stay upright, 3 things need to happen:
- Your sensory system accurately portraying information on your body’s position in its environment – Hearing, vision and touch (such as our feet on the floor).
- Your brain processing that information – Neurons and sensory receptors in the brain (i.e. making decisions).
- Your muscles and joints coordinating movement based on the information your brain gives them – Being able to contract and relax your muscles to move how you want to.
These 3 factors are usually an automatic process for our body, and so when we feel our balance worsening, we need to explore which of these steps are not working how they should be. Generally, balance is caused by a variety of factors, so we need to know what these factors can be and work to correct them.
So what are some of the things to be aware of?
- Chronic conditions, such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis.
- Poly pharmacy (taking 4 or more medications).
- Hearing Problems (hearing loss, infection, vertigo).
- Vision Problems (poor sight, macular degeneration, cataracts) .
- Low Blood Pressure or Low Blood Sugar.
- Nerve problems.
- Muscle Weakness.
For example, if our brain is not receiving good signals from the eyes, ears and skin, it will affect the information our brain has to work with. So it is important to get glasses and/or hearing aids if function has deteriorated. Or if we have a disease that affects the brain this may compromise motor function and movement, and so we will need to make sure our sensory input and muscle output are stronger to compensate. If our muscles and joints are too weak to carry out the messages they receive, it will be beneficial to stretch and strengthen our muscles to ensure they can adequately respond to the information they are receiving.
With balance, it is a case of practice makes perfect. If you are challenging your muscles in a controlled environment and encouraging them to be aware and responsive to the brain’s messages, your body will respond quickly and efficiently to keep you upright and stable. As a result you have better control, stability and essentially balance.
Our challenge for you this month is to find time to exercise. Many of us do not prioritise exercise, and we suffer as a result. The benefit of exercise on health and balance is very well known; let’s make May a month of finding the balance – not only physical!
Click here to start practicing your balance today!
Do you wake up and need to rub your knees or shoulders or back, because your joints are aching? This is joint pain… There is a variety of pain and a variety of reasons why we experience pain. So today, I want to focus on understanding joint pain, and specifically, why we have MORNING JOINT PAIN
We go to bed… we have a good night of sleep… and yet, we wake feeling like we have been hit by a ton of bricks! You may know that morning stiffness is more common as one gets older… but is it inevitable?
Lets start by looking at some of the causes of morning stiffness:
1. Inactivity – General inactivity leads to muscle weakness and poor flexibility that puts extra strain on our joints.
2. Poor sleep – Interrupted sleep, too much or too little sleep, can affect our joints the next day.
3. Being overweight – Excess weight puts extra strain on our joints as well as causing us to feel lethargic.
4. A cold or damp environment – If we are sleeping in an area that is cold of damp, that will cause us to be tense during sleep and the cold will stiffen the joints.
5. Prolonged stillness – when we sleep we are still, therefore the fluid in our joints moves to where gravity tells it and our joints aren’t lubricated evenly when we start moving in the morning.
6. Arthritis or other chronic conditions – Joint stiffness is often worst following periods of inactivity. So in the morning our joints have stiffened up and you may experience pain.
So now that we know some of the things that cause us to be stiff… how do we counterbalance this and relax our stiff muscles???
The body is a magical thing. We have millions of cells that work together to create everything we need to stay alive and functioning. Our cells keep us going 24/7, 365. The way it works is simple: Every day our cells take in nutrients, air, and more. They use what they can and dispose of what they cannot. Of course, our cells are subjected to an ageing process as well. In fact, how we age is influenced by the wear and tear of our cells. We subject our cells to oxidative stress when we ask them to dispose of toxic by-products that we receive from the air and food we consume. So how we manage this oxidative stress, results in how well our cells manage wear and tear.
Much research is being done into how and why certain species live for hundreds or years and others for only a few weeks. Most of the evidence comes back to this oxidative stress. If our cells are constantly working overtime to remove bad products from the system, they will deteriorate faster. This is why we know that part of delaying our “wear and tear” comes with not subjecting our cells to extra oxidative stress. At the same time, we are continually developing strategies to prolong life and delay ageing.
One study from Future Learn, found that successful ageing comes down to 3 things:
1. Managing your health
We all know that being healthy involves eating right and exercising, doing things that are good for you and avoiding things that are bad for you. Yet, very few of us seem to follow these guidelines. Managing your health is about more than “putting out fires” when they pop up, we need to make it a priority to put our health first.
2. Staying involved with your community
People who are isolated are more likely to develop depression, frailty and overall poor health. Humans are designed to live in community and so it is vital to stay involved in the community.
3. Focusing on personal development
It is never too late to learn new skills and keep growing. When we stagnate and stop challenging ourselves, this is when we will see a decline. Grow in your strengths… learn new things… develop yourself personally and continually.
Ageing is a natural process. Ageing well is a conscious effort.
Do you want to start your journey of ageing well?
Why don’t you start with an exercise class?
Click here to come book a free trial exercise class specifically designed for older adults!
Exercise. It gets the blood pumping and the muscles going. It energises you and it tires you out. And sometimes, after a good workout, you wake up feeling all sorts of stiffness in muscles you didnt know you had. So what causes this?
Let’s start by looking at something called: Muscle Hypertrophy:
This is when your muscles increase in size as they get stronger. Due to:
- Mechanical tension
- Metabolic stress
- Muscle damage
This muscle damage is what can cause Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). So while muscle damage is not an essential aspect of hypertrophy, it is a sign that you are on the right track to building muscle… albeit a painful sign.
DOMS is a distinct muscle pain that is caused by overloading the muscles through heavy or unaccustomed activities. It can range in severity and timing and is characterised by a feeling of being sore, achy, weak and generally quite “pap”. Often it develops overnight and one will wake up feeling this soreness. Unfortunately DOMS can often deter people from exercising as they feel they are getting hurt, however this is not the case and DOMS is a natural reaction that does subside.