4 Ways Your Body Changes with Age

People experience many changes as they grow older, and eventually every part of the body is altered in some way. While these age-related changes are inevitable, you have a fair amount of control over the speed at which they occur. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, can put the brakes on changes linked to aging, helping you stay fit and strong well into your later years.

1. Body Fat Increases

As people age, their body fat tends to increase and their muscle mass tends to decrease. These changes in body composition start around age 30 and often pick up speed after age 40.  Shifting hormones play an important role in these changes: testosterone levels in men and estrogen levels in women start to wane as the years pass, making it harder to retain muscle mass and easier to accumulate fat. In addition, metabolism begins a slow decline as early as age 25, contributing to the changes many people start noticing in their forties.

Body composition is an area where your lifestyle can make a big difference. A healthy, balanced diet in addition to regular exercise can help you avoid fat gain and keep your muscles strong. To get the most benefit, aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise five times a week, minimize sugar intake, and eat a well-balanced diet rich in fat, protein, and carbohydrates.   

2. Bones Lose Density

Bones lose density with age, and this density loss can lead to osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to weaken and become more likely to break. Bone density loss often speeds up in women after menopause because the body produces less estrogen, a hormone that protects bone mass. In addition, as you grow older, your body doesn’t absorb calcium as well and your levels of vitamin D decrease. Combined, these two factors lead to a reduction in bone density in both men and women.

To minimize bone density loss, maintain a healthy diet, making sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Weight-bearing activity makes your bones stronger and helps prevent falls, so try to strength train three or four times a week.

3. Plaque Starts to Form in Your Arteries

As you age, cholesterol causes plaque to build up in your arteries, resulting in reduced blood flow. When blood can’t flow freely, your risk of heart attack increases. If you smoke or eat a poor diet, your blood vessels may weaken, allowing plaque to get in and further corrode your arteries.

Diet and exercise can slow plaque build-up. It’s hard to get rid of plaque once you have it, so the earlier you start getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, the better. Foods that help you fight plaque include asparagus, wild-caught salmon, and avocado.

4. You Get Happier

Not all age-related changes are negative. Multiple studies show that people tend to get happier during old age. These studies reveal that while people report high levels of happiness at age 18, they begin reporting lower levels in their early twenties, and happiness appears to bottom out around age 50. However, after age 50, happiness begins to rebound. In fact, people in their eighties report feeling more satisfied with themselves than people in their late teens. 

While research says that you’ll get happier with age, don’t wait. If you want to feel better now, try taking a technology fast, learning a new skill, or scheduling regular dinners with friends. Multiple paths to happiness are available to you, and they’re easier to take than many people realize.

Growing older can be a little scary sometimes, but learning about the changes that take place can alleviate much of the anxiety surrounding the aging process. Lifestyle is important when it comes to slowing age-related changes, so don’t wait to adjust your routine. Pick one area to work on and get started today.