This is a really interesting subject to look at and one that aligns perfectly with the concept for our 'Live Strong & Thrive, The Pro-Ageing Fitness Programme'. Our approach is to live according to our Biological Age rather than be fixated on our Chronological Age.
What is 'Chronological Ageing'?
Our chronological age is easy to determine as it's our age in terms of years, months, days etc. It's the way we usually define our age. It’s also a primary risk factor for chronic diseases, mortality and any impairments to bodily functions, such as hearing and memory.
What is Biological Ageing?
Over the years we gradually accumulate damage to various cells and tissues in our body which is when biological ageing occurs. Biological age, also known as physiological or functional age, differs from chronological age as it takes in a number of factors other than the way we were born.
Our biological age is related to various different biological and physiological development factors which include:.
Genetics (for example, how quickly your body’s antioxidant defenses kick in)
Diseases and other conditions
So, while our chronological age is a factor, our biological age may be different. Medical professionals can work out what age our body 'acts' like using the factors mentioned above and various mathematical methods.
For example a 28 year old who doesn't exercise, eats mainly high-fat foods and has smoked heavily for the past 10 years, is likely to have a biological age higher than 28 years old.
Whereas a 52 year old, who exercises, doesn't smoke and eats a varied, healthy diet, might have a biological age that is lower than 52.
How can we take steps to age healthily?
Starting at any age, even at 70+ we can help ourselves to improve our biological age.
We can all benefit from regular exercise, especially if we're struggling with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis.
For younger adults, exercise improves the amount of blood the heart can pump with each beat (stroke volume) and lowers the resting heart rate.
For older adults exercise improves heart and lung function, which can increase endurance and reduce fatigue.
Being consistent and including a range of different types of exercise will make a real difference. Try and include:
'Balance Exercises' to reduce the risk of falling, which is a major cause for injuries in elderly adults.
'Strength Exercises' to help build muscle mass, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
'Endurance Exercises' to help your breathing and heart rates rise, which on a regular basis improves lung and heart health and stamina, as well as benefiting the circulatory system. (swimming, walking, running and biking are good examples).
'Stretching Exercises' to keep your body loose, which allows you to continue doing everyday tasks with minimal aches and pains.
2. Healthy weight
Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer and more. So, it's important to take control of our life and develop healthy habits that can fit with our lifestyle, which in return means we can enjoy a more fulfilled life.
3. Healthy body shape
As well as maintaining a healthy weight the way our body distributes fat is very important for healthy ageing.
Our body shape is usually determined by our waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference.
Fat accumulates on the outer edges, such as hips and thighs. This is the sign of a healthy body fat distribution.
Fat shifts from the outer edges to the abdomen and waist, which can increase the chance of heart disease and breast cancer.
4. Eat more foods with a low glycemic index value
Foods with a low glycemic index value include:
Bread: whole grain, multigrain, rye, sourdough
Breakfast cereals: steel cut oats, bran flakes
Fruit: apples, strawberries, apricots, peaches, plums, pears, kiwi, tomatoes, and more
Vegetables: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, and more
Starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes with an orange flesh, corn, yams, winter squash
Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, baked beans, butter beans, kidney beans, and more
Pasta and noodles: pasta, soba noodles, vermicelli noodles, rice noodles
Rice: basmati, Doongara, long grain, brown
Grains: quinoa, barley, pearl couscous, buckwheat, freekeh, semolina
Dairy and dairy replacements: milk, cheese, yogurt, coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk
The nutrients in these types of food helps keep our bones, muscles, and organs strong for long periods of time.
If we are pro-active and consistent in taking steps to help improve our biological age we could end up having a biological age that is younger than our chronological age. It takes determination and perhaps a shift in attitude, but it can really pay off and help us to live a better and more active lifestyle for longer.