Google spits out countless scientific studies in the search for a decrease in performance in old age. Fatigue, however, as the numerous suggestions for solving crossword puzzles suggest, has little to do with it.
It is often said that older people have a harder time driving. Sometimes you complain that, thanks to age, memory is not as good as it used to be. You probably know this: Where did you put the car keys? In a nutshell:
Yes, there is a decline in performance with age.
This topic is of immense concern to science and, according to the surveys, also concerns the elderly. The studies always emphasize that these are often also psychological aspects. It’s not as bad as it feels and, above all, how society tells and lives it out to the elderly.
On the contrary, experienced employees are worth gold, especially in the workplace.
Head, body and mind: What happens to them in old age and what can you do for them? Let’s take a look at the subject.
The decrease in the performance of the individual organs at a glance
Almost all systems in the body are less efficient in old age. Here you will find a list of all affected systems and the possible effects:
Central nervous system
- Water loss
- Minerals and vitamin deficiency
- Decrease in activity, resistance and nerve conduction
- Slowing down movements
- Learning difficulties
- Balance disorders
- Increase in falls
- Decrease in: Regulation
- Decrease in adaptability
- Decrease in protein synthesis
- Catabolis (degradation of substances in the body)
- Higher susceptibility to infection
Muscles and bones
- Decrease in strength and joint mobility
- Increased risk of fracture
- Solidification of the heart valve tissue
- Decrease in filling speed
- Decrease in max. Heart rate
- Decrease in stroke volume and thus of heart minute volume
- Fat deposits
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased susceptibility to fainting
- Decrease in lung function
- Decrease in the number of alveoli
- Decrease in oxygen uptake
Skin and hair
- Dry skin
- Hair loss and grey hair
- Deterioration of close-up vision
- Adaptation disorder
Ears and balance organ
- High-frequency hearing loss
- Decrease in the sense of position
- Increase in dizziness and falls
Nose and mouth
- Change in taste and sense of smell
- Associated lack of appetite
- Swallowing disorders
- Carrier intestine
- Food intolerance
Urinary and sexual system
- Stress incontinence
- Loss of libido
Okay, that doesn’t sound so nice now. So let’s look at what you can do about it.
Sport is murder? Sport is more powerful and promotes your well-being
Sport brings it. One even reads that no drug exceeds the effect of sport on the elderly. Many studies attested to the improvement of physical activity:
- Your well-being. Even if it may be a torment, you feel proven better after the sport.
- The performance. Exercise improves your brain’s blood. This slows down the age-related decline in performance.
When choosing the sport, it is important that you take into account your resilience, the sport and your own performance goal. Like younger athletes, you can experience similar improvements through targeted training – at lower levels due to age.
The combination of today’s living conditions and diet is often a cause of lower performance and also metabolic or cardiovascular diseases.
People today move less against our nature. The body is not created for sitting. Work, entertainment or culture are usually experienced while sitting.
At the same time, nutrition in Central Europe is not ideal and further worsens the risk factors for diseases.
In Germany in particular, however, too little is being put into provision. Painful problems such as back problems or joint problems are second-ranging. Blood pressure should remain below 140/90 mm Hg, regardless of age. You probably know that.
With endurance sports you can get proven but both flies with one flap. According to studies, it lowers blood pressure and heart rate. At the same time, it helps the back and joints.
Why does there be a decrease in performance in old age?
To this end, we look at an internationally recognized comparative value: the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). According to studies, it decreases with age, regardless of whether you exercise or not. The difference is how much the value decreases between the ages of 25 and 70:
- Excluding training:8 to 10 percent less per decade.
- With training:4 to 5 percent less oxygen intake per decade.
Hormones play a greater role here:
The older we get, the less free testosterone we have. According to studies, this leads to more fat in the body – despite regular workouts.
The situation is similar with the growth hormone somatropin (STH). The deficiency leads to a decrease in muscle mass,which in turn reduces performance.
Especially the required recovery time after physical performance increases significantly. You feel sluggish longer with age – this is noticeable from the age of 30.
In addition to testosterone undersupply, there are a number of effects:
- Signs of wear and tear of muscle fibers
- Storage of metabolic end products
- Less powerful cells in the heart and muscles
- Less elasticity of the vessels
- Reduced breathing reserve during loads
- Decrease in the ability to regenerate muscles
Speaking of regeneration capacity: As early as 1995, a study showed that poorer supply of testosterone leads to longer regeneration times.
The strength of the decline in performance is somewhat controversial. German researchers concluded in 2010 that the waste only actually appears from the 55 onwards and is still very small. Trained 65- to 69-year-olds were faster than half of 20- to 54-year-old long-distance runners. In old age, the performance in endurance sports decreases comparatively little and here the experience also counts.
The recovery phase is becoming more important. This counteracts the decrease in performance
Does this mean that we should administer testosterone artificially in old age? No. There is no reliable study situation yet. The effects are not yet fully understood.
The sticking point is more in the recovery. As you age, you need to pay attention to sufficient recovery periods and resort to additional aids:
- Heat applications
- Supplementation of micronutrients
This allows your muscles to recover faster and your body recovers faster.
When supplementing micronutrients, the deficiency is important. Not only usual sports supplements such as magnesium can help, but the need is quite individual. Here it is advisable that you use your doctor of choice to clarify possible defects.
Can your brain still do anything with age? The decrease in cognitive performance
No, that doesn’t mean dementia, of course. According to the research, cognitive performance decreases from the age of 60. Above all, there are problems with memory.
Today, it is not so drastic. But if people continue to age (130 years are supposed to be possible in the next few decades), this will become a problem.
Episodic long-term memory is most affected. What happened, you still remember. You just don’t always know in what context or when it happened.
In addition, we become more inflexiblein old age. This is also the reason why digitalization is a greater challenge for old than young.
Factors for the extent and strength of the change are:
- Lack of movement
- Tobacco consumption
- Too few mental challenges
- Chronic stress
Here again the diet is a key. Micronutrients in particular are extremely important for our nervous system.
Your body lacks antioxidants more as you get older. Therefore, it is recommended to consume fresh fruits and vegetables regularly. However, your body also absorbs fewer nutrients with age – this usually reduces appetite. There are two measures against this:
- Cook tasty, appetizing dishes.
- Supplementation of micronutrients with dietary supplements that also contain many antioxidants.
The much-quoted bioavailability of the nutrients thus remains high and your body can also do something with them.
Especially important here are zinc,
as well as vitamins C and E. In case of defects, however, it is advisable to always contact your GP. By simply checking the blood, you can find out what you are actually missing.
In general, your brain needs zinc and it is also concentrated there. However, studies show that 44% of adults over the age of 70 suffer from zinc deficiency. Since such an immediate cognitive disturbance leads to cognitive disorders, it must be reversed immediately.
Selenium has an antioxidant effect and research here also shows that the brain needs it for this reason. The situation is very similar for vitamins C and E.
Yes, there is a decrease in performance in old age. No, you don’t belong to the old iron.
So we see that older people do not belong to the old iron at all. Especially the age records in endurance sports have been squealing almost regularly in recent years.
Sport is a big area that helps you maintain performance. The diet is not to be underestimated and often we lack certain micronutrients in old age.
The initial list of possible problems seems like a wall of terror. It is important to note that all this is possible but does not have to be. You can fight a lot of things in a targeted way.
However, recovery is Erholungalso a key point. The latter nutrients help here, but massages or heat treatments also contribute. With all the torment with the sport, you must not forget to let yourself go well. Your body will thank you.