Why Older Is Slower
Twenty-year-olds might hardly be able to believe it, but in 20 more years they will not be racing around at the speed they adopt now. They are going to slow down, probably by the age of 35 or 40, and certainly around 50. The change could be imperceptible; only obvious when you compare your youthful self with your current pace or go for a brisk walk with someone half your age. You were that speedy once: what happened?
Loss of Muscle Mass
Your muscles are not as dense as they used to be. They started to lose density around the age of 40, especially if you didn’t exercise much along the way to middle age. Now they want to work less intensely and for shorter periods of time. Then again, older people are likely to take part in frequent, short bouts of activity as they wrestle with insomnia and bladder issues.
Metabolism is your energy regulator; the system that determines how quickly you burn fat and also how rapidly you want to move around. This system slows down as part of the natural aging process. Whereas loss of muscle mass might seem like a cruel joke, a slower body is protecting itself against injury caused by lack of balance and strength. You are more injury prone at this point in life, especially since your bones are also losing density.
Fear of Injury
The older you get, the more conscious you become of your vulnerability. This causes you to take things more slowly and think carefully about the risks of a hike, a run, or a trip to the gym. Concerns about breaking bones and slow recovery nag you and you wonder if you really could bounce back from injury anymore.
No Longer in a Hurry
When the kids become independent, you do not have to ferry them to appointments and activities. They keep their pace and you keep yours. Whereas you were forced into a state of constant hurry between work, school concerts, doctors, and dentists, now you can take your time and slow down.
Lots of older people do not, in fact, slow down after 40. They take this opportunity to move more quickly because they are unencumbered by small children and the grandkids have not arrived yet to slow them down again. When the grandkids do start coming, grandma and grandpa take part in lively activities with them without feeling dragged down by sleepless nights.
Parents lose weight they gained during the years of fast food gulped down with soda and coffee between one child’s soccer game and another child’s piano recital. They have time to think about their own health. There aren’t any more sports fees to pay and fewer groceries to buy when the kids leave home. Mom and dad have time and money to join a gym and might even spend more time together hiking, cycling, kayaking, dancing, running, or walking. In this case, fitness improves and over-40’s pick up the pace. They become healthier, stronger and faster, at least for a while before ultimately slowing down.