Exercising for old age: part 2

Welcome back everyone. We are gathered here today to pay attention to our bones. The ones we don’t see but we know that they are there. If you see yours then bad things must have happened. We talked about muscle physiology some time back and that article is in the website not very far from this one. It was strewn with wisdom. Seek and you shall find it.

Bones and muscles work as a team. Despite being so different. Why can’t humans do that more often… Anyway, they are the frame on which we are built. They also enable movement and weight bearing activities like walking, carrying a baby and holding an umbrella. Happy times. Bones and muscles, helping you make memories since the beginning of the universe.

Bones may look solid and dry but those are just the bones of a dead person. We are not dead, yet. So we will discuss the affairs of the living. The bone structure in a living, breathing and kicking human being is alive just as much as the person is. It is sensitive to external changes, consumes nutrients and changes its structure over time, with rigidity conquering elasticity as one ages.

Rigidity means easy to break and crack. We don’t want that. Too much elasticity and it won’t have the strength to act as a support structure too. Although it’s easier to heal. As with many things in life, it is all about balance. Having just the right amount of rigidity and flexibility. It’s a science man. The human body is no joke.

We get this balance right for free in our youth, but as the years roll on things start to change. The balance starts to shift towards rigidity. That means the bones become brittle, easy to break and harder to repair in case of fractures. Old age, annoying people since the beginning of the universe.

Remedies. That’s why we are here. Let’s talk remedies. We have several. This being a fitness article, we will single out exercise. Specifically weight-bearing exercises. The long walks, jogging, stair-climbing and et cetera. These exercises help tilt the balance of bone composition back to optimum values. They keep the bone density from plummeting, something which occurs naturally as we age. They also help regulate just how much calcium is being infused into bones. Too much calcium makes the bones brittle. Cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts are involved in calcium side of bone development. We can’t give them a call and tell them to stop fooling around, but we can exercise. They will listen to that.

Exercise is what keeps the bones and muscles in top shape. It’s like feeding information to them on just how strong they should be. When they bear weights during exercise they know to build themselves up to support that weight. If they stop getting information on how strong they should be… They just stop building themselves. Then over time they grow weaker and weaker to the point where they can’t support anything more than body weight. Bending over and walking sticks are not a fashion statement for old people. Those are the effects of the four horsemen of immobility in old age: Arthritis, muscle wasting, bone degeneration and retirement.

Unfortunately some life activities generate more force than body weight. Like getting up from a sitting position. You know, sitting. Like when you have finished your hard business in the toilet and now you want to get up. And then your hamstrings are just like nope, we don’t do that anymore. If the toilet you had visited demanded squatting then we are remembering you in prayer. Add arthritis to that and the pain will make you not want to get up. The problem is that when everything is working fine no one sees the need for exercise. When things stop working you won’t have the strength or fortitude to exercise. Life is always like that. We are wiser after the fact. Or maybe for once we could give that adage the middle finger and wise up early on.

Our youth gives us bodies that keep trivial matters like sitting or going to the toilet trivial, so that we can focus on work and having fun. In old age things can degenerate quickly, to the point where fun is forgotten and trivial things become the highlight of the day, cursing when things don’t go well and celebrating when they are painless.

Worth noting is that time is deceptively fast and once you start suffering it slows down so that you can take it all in. When our bones and muscles have flown away with the years, we will be forced to adopt the movements of a tree while we reminisce on the days when we could prance around like a peacock; and run like a cheetah once our prancing has attracted the hyena sacco.

To avoid such unpleasant situations after conquering midlife crisis, let us put in the work to keep our muscles and bones in top shape. Our future self needs them too. Entropy is not an acceptable excuse for muscle and bone wasting when exercise is so freely available. Those who dislike free things are even covered, with gyms offering paid memberships so that you can feel superior as you exercise. Whatever floats your boat, start paying the fitness tax. All good things need work to be good. Body functions are not an exception.

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