top of page

The Ageless Necessity: Prioritizing Cardiovascular and Muscular Strength After 60

In the journey of life, aging is inevitable. As we gracefully advance in years, it becomes increasingly vital to prioritize our health and while age brings wisdom and experience, it also brings certain physiological changes that demand attention and care. Specifically focusing on two key pillars: cardiovascular and muscular strength.


Cardiovascular Health: The Engine of Longevity

Our heart, the tireless engine of our bodies, deserves special attention as we age. In our later years, our hearts lose strength and are more vulnerable to disease but these risks can be mitigated when we place a voluntary stress on our bodies. Sometimes we forget that our heart is not only a vital organ, but also hosts an extremely important group of muscles known as the cardiac muscles. Cardiac muscle, also known as the myocardium, are basically little biceps, triceps, glutes, quads and abs around your heart and just as those groups of muscles would get bigger and stronger in response to the exercise stress, so too do your heart's muscles when it has to pump faster through a process called cardiac remodeling. Here's what happens specifically when our heart rates go up through exercise...

1. Increased Stroke Volume: During exercise, the heart pumps more blood with each beat, a measure known as stroke volume. Regular aerobic exercise improves the efficiency of the heart, allowing it to pump more blood per beat. This adaptation is achieved through an increase in the size and contractility of the cardiac muscle fibers.


2. Hypertrophy of the Left Ventricle: The left ventricle of the heart, which pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body, undergoes hypertrophy in response to exercise. This means that the muscle fibers of the left ventricle increase in size, allowing the heart to pump blood more forcefully. As a result, the heart can maintain adequate blood flow to meet the increased demands of exercise.

3. Improved Cardiac Output: Cardiac output, which is the volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute, increases with regular exercise. This is achieved through a combination of increased stroke volume and heart rate. A stronger, more efficient heart can deliver oxygenated blood to the working muscles more effectively, enhancing endurance and exercise performance.


4. Enhanced Capillary Density: Exercise stimulates the growth of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis. This leads to an increase in capillary density within the myocardium, allowing for more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cardiac muscle fibers. Improved blood flow within the heart helps to maintain myocardial health and function.


5. Lower Resting Heart Rate: Regular exercise can lead to a decrease in resting heart rate, as the heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood. A lower resting heart rate is a sign of cardiovascular fitness and indicates that the heart is able to maintain adequate blood flow at rest and during physical activity.


Cardiovascular diseases become more prevalent with advancing age, making it crucial to maintain a healthy heart. Regular aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling help to strengthen the myocardium ultimately making the heart stronger, improving circulation, and lowering blood pressure. Living a longer healthier life is possible because a strong heart reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other related conditions, ultimately enhancing longevity and quality of life.


Muscular Strength: The Foundation of Independence

As adults, we begin to experience a gradual decline in muscle mass, strength, and function, a process known as sarcopenia. This decline typically begins in our late 30s or early 40s, although it can vary depending on factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and overall health. The rate at which muscle mass declines can also vary widely among individuals. On average, adults may lose about 3-5% of their muscle mass per decade after the age of 30. However, this rate of decline tends to accelerate after the age of 60. By the time individuals reach their 70s and 80s, they may experience a more rapid loss of muscle mass, often accompanied by decreased strength and functional capacity. So, how can strength training prevent this?

1. Muscle Hypertrophy: When you engage in strength training, you're placing stress on your muscles. This stress triggers microscopic damage to muscle fibers. In response to the micro-trauma, your body initiates a repair process, where satellite cells are activated to repair and rebuild the damaged muscle fibers and with more strength, leading to muscle hypertrophy, or muscle growth. Over time, as you continue to challenge your muscles with progressively heavier weights or increased resistance, they adapt by becoming larger and stronger, countering the effects of sarcopenia.


2. Bone Adaptation: In addition to strengthening muscles, strength training also has a positive effect on bone health. As we age, we begin to lose bone density but when you lift weights or perform resistance exercises, the mechanical stress placed on your bones stimulates bone remodeling. Osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation, become activated in response to this stress. In other words, holding a high plank for a minute everyday would activate your osteoblasts in the wrist, forearm, upper arm and so many other bones leading to an increase in bone density and strength. One of the biggest scares for seniors is having a fall but over time, consistent strength training can help to prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones.


3. Improved Joint Stability: Strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints through resistance training can improve joint stability and function. Strong muscles provide better support and protection for your joints, reducing the risk of injuries and conditions such as osteoarthritis. Additionally, strength training helps to maintain joint flexibility and range of motion, promoting overall joint health.


While sarcopenia is a natural part of the aging process, muscles play a pivotal role in maintaining mobility and independence. Engaging in resistance training exercises, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands, helps counteract this natural decline. Strengthening muscles not only improves balance and coordination but also reduces the risk of falls and fractures, enabling individuals to lead active and independent lives for longer.


The Synergy of Cardiovascular and Muscular Strength

Although each aspect of health holds its own significance, the synergy between cardiovascular and muscular strength cannot be overstated. They complement each other like rice and beans, fostering overall well-being and resilience. Cardiovascular exercises enhance endurance and stamina, while strength training fortifies muscles, joints, and bones. Together, they form a formidable defense against age-related ailments and contribute to a vibrant, fulfilling lifestyle.


In essence, the journey of aging presents an opportunity to invest in ourselves and our future. By prioritizing cardiovascular and muscular strength, we can all proactively safeguard our health, maintain independence, and enjoy a fulfilling, active lifestyle. Remember, age is just a number, but the choices we make today profoundly influence the quality of our tomorrows so let's choose vitality, strength, and well-being at every age. Peace, love and blessings fam.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

5 Tips to Embracing Change

Imagine this; it's a random Tuesday morning and you head to your routine spin class only to find out your favorite teacher moved to the Caribbean. Or in another scenario, the company you work for is

Comments


bottom of page