As we age, our physical abilities decline including flexibility, strength, and stamina. Besides these changes, certain changes occur in coordinating the movements of the body too. Collectively these changes mean we may not be able to do certain tasks with the same ability and efficiency. For example balance on a slippery surface, catching a ball, running to catch a bus, etc. Do we have to accept these changes? Let us look into what causes these changes and what can be done to prevent them.
Changes in strength, stamina, and flexibility are liked with a decrease in muscle mass. After 40 years of age, there is a decline of 1% to 2 % per year in lean body mass and up to 5% per year in strength capacity. This loss is due to the loss of muscle fibers and size. If a muscle fiber reduces in size below a certain level, it dies. Small fast twitching muscles die more rapidly causing a loss in coordination. Besides these, the ability to repair also diminishes with age. All of these are linked to a reduction in certain muscle-building hormones and growth factors such as testosterone, estrogen, dehydroepiandrosterone, insulin, growth hormones, etc.
Coordination Of Movement
Coordination is related to the brain and nervous system. Multiple brain centers need to perform to allow you to do certain tasks such as hitting a golf ball or keeping a coffee cup stable while talking. It is the white matter which wires several sections of our brain. As we age, some reasons go unnoticed like the shrinking of the white matter due to many mini-strokes. These strokes disrupt connections resulting in a decline in coordination.
Dopamine-producing cells are common as you get older, and are also responsible for slowing down movement and coordination. So even if someone doesn’t develop serious issues like Parkinson’s disease, many people develop some abnormalities in movements.
Vision change is also a factor. Eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cognitive disorder due to aging effects eye-hand or eye-foot coordination.
Improve Strength And Coordination
Mostly the reason for loss of strength and coordination is the reduction in levels of physical activity. There is a myth in society that with age it is okay to progressively reduce exercise. The requirement is the opposite. As we age, we need to increase the time spent on exercising to compensate for body changes. It is important to note that one can start exercises at any age and can improve strength and coordination.
Actions To Be Taken
- Participate in aerobic exercises.
- Do take part in strength training.
- Participate in sports that require coordination functions to perform.
- Do not hesitate to learn a new sport or activity. Join under a coach to do things correctly.
- Work with the doctor if you have a medical condition. Remember that one must try and cure the cause and not the symptoms.
- Sleep well.
- Eat healthily.
- Be happy and enjoy every moment. Do not be too strict on yourself.