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How your body changes with age

Updated: May 20, 2020

“To feel confident and still move forward we need to pull our shoulders back and stand tall which gives us more confidence"

Photo by Carole Railton (copyright)

This article explores some of the problems that may occur as a person ages and what you can do about it.

As people age their movement changes. But how?

“We tend to stoop as we get older. We look down more than up, an indicator that we are not so comfortable on our feet (compared with younger people) says body language expert, Carole Railton. She is also co-founder of Behavioural Shift, a global organisation that focuses on the changes that people 50 and over experience.

“To feel confident and still move forward we need to pull our shoulders back and stand tall which gives us more confidence,” she says.

The fact that peoples’ movement changes as they age is confirmed by Kate Jakobsson who specialises in keeping older people fit and active. One of the ways in which movement changes as people age is that they tend to lose their balance as they get older, she says. Jakobsson recommends some exercises to improve balance. (see videos on Behavioural Shift). She also says that exercises that improve rotation can help balance.

Interesting, too, is that eyes are integral to how age is managed. As Railton says: “We find it harder to see things and get the right perspective which is why driving licences are restricted as we get older”. She suggests a simple exercise to perform. “Hold one finger at arms-length in front of you and slowly bring the finger towards the eye and keep focusing on the eye at all times. Do this 10-times in succession.”

Railton also says that if you live in a city it is likely that you are not good at seeing long distances so it is important to go to a coast or a park where you can look further afield.

Another issue is that after retirement, people sit down more so they tend not to rotate the hips, says Jakobsson. She also says that many people are not aware that they have weak stomach and back muscles. “If you don’t do exercise for a long time you will have weak core muscles,” she says. It is important to strengthen these muscles, she emphasises and gives exercises to improve them (Go to next blog.

Railton also points out that one of the most common problems with body language as a person ages is the inflexibility of the arms, which makes it difficult to put on coats and jackets easily. “Gentle arm rotations to the outside of our body can help and later we can lift our arms above our heads to improve mobility,” she says.

She also says that the biggest clue to old age in the body is the speed at which a person moves. “Generally, people are more likely to shuffle than stride,” she says. “Learning how to maintain our stride and to move with confidence will come more easily if you are aware of it,” she says, adding: “Try walking with younger people for a mile or so to improve your fitness and confidence.”

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