Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Walking and the Aging Process
Journal Entry from Feb. 8 through Feb. 17.: Coinage = $22.98 for the period. All the regular features return on the next post. The MoneyWalker has experienced sensory overload during the last ten days with the Saints winning the Super Bowl and the traditional festivities of the Mardi Gras. The walks were made, but not the blog.
Feature Entry: Walking and the Aging Process
Yesterday, my brother, eight years my senior called and requested help with a car he has for sell. It wouldn’t start. I asked about the battery and was told it was less than a year old. Upon examination, I noticed corrosion around one of the terminals, not too surprising since he hadn’t started the car in over the month. All solutions failed—cleaning the terminals, adding water, and jumper cables. The battery had failed, it was dead. Fortunately the dead battery was so new, he received a free new battery without prorate.
The lesson is obvious, if we don’t use our body and the various parts, it will cease to function and die prematurely. The solution to living successfully into old age is exercises that involve strength building, cardiorespiratory, and stretching; a healthy diet; and maintaining a positive attitude.
What are the effects of aging on muscles and what can be done? First, as muscles age they lose mass and a sedentary lifestyle accelerate it. Our grip strength diminishes as does our reaction time. The heart muscle becomes less able to pump sufficient quantities of blood to the body’s periphery causing shortness of breath, premature fatigue, and slow recovery. Reduced muscular size and efficiency also results in decreased metabolism which causes weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Joint flexibility is also at risk. Motion becomes more restricted and range of motion decreases with age. It is all due to changes in tendons and ligaments. Also, as the cushioning cartilage breaks down, the joints become inflamed and arthritic.
Now we know, it is not aging as much as it is disuse. Less than 10 percent of Americans participate in regular exercise. As a result obesity is a recognized “epidemic” by the Centers for Disease Control. The solution follows: Stretch to help maintain joint flexibility; Weight train to increase muscle mass and strength; and participate in regular moderate amounts of cardiovascular activity to reduce risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. An exercise program doesn't have to be strenuous to be effective. Walking, square dancing, swimming, and bicycling are all recommended activities for maintaining fitness as we age.
Sorry about the sermon, but after Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties, to say nothing of the Valentine candy, I needed the self-talk.