We all understand the importance of taking care of ourselves; it’s better for our quality of life, especially as we get older. But at Cliffs we’re treating the effects of modern day living and are now seeing more and more 20 and 30-year-olds with the kind of neck, shoulder and back problems usually associated with much older people.
To avoid or deal with these problems you need to do something, be proactive, but the minute “eat a balanced diet”, “stand up straight” or “take regular exercise” is mentioned, it’s all too easy to turn off. But who wants to age prematurely, be unable to look after themselves? No one does, not really. And, as you’re reading this, you can help yourself right now. Just click on your age-group and use the information to learn more about what’s happening to your body and how you can increase your energy levels, strength and flexibility. Remember you don’t have to be perfect! Making a few lifestyle changes today, and sustaining them, can give you benefits that last a lifetime.
Of course, age is just a number, and depending on your lifestyle and genes, you might fit into a different age group. You’ll know when you see it!
Your toddler will naturally adopt your habits. You’ve been providing stimulation from birth, but from around the age of two you need to help them get their hand-to-eye co-ordination really going and start increasing their vocabulary; reading picture books together, learning songs and the actions to them and even sorting out the washing, are all enjoyable ways of doing this. Children are born with primary or primitive reflexes that are a protective survival response. As they learn more about their surroundings they develop neural pathways and ever more complex synapses that help them assess a situation and have a more thought-out or ‘cortical’ response. The more you can stimulate a baby and toddler the more they will experience and develop thought and response processes, building intelligence and co-ordination. The crawling stage is important for developing a sense of spatial awareness and proportion that will aid mathematical skills.
The body is growing and developing so fast, yet they naturally sit up straight and walk tall (please keep encouraging this). They won’t naturally brush their teeth though and oral care is vital; this is one habit you must enforce early on to avoid problems later.
The six golden rules:
- Your child’s taste preferences are largely formed by the age of three, so expose them to a wide range of fresh healthy foods.
- Too much fast food with a high sugar content can affect short and long term health. Diabetes and obesity are increasing in children. Create a low sugar/fresh produce habit from the start!
- A junk food diet lowers IQ and sets the stage for asthma, eczema and allergies.
- Don’t battle with picky eaters; it’s better for your child to eat something, even if it’s unhealthy.
- Lead by example; let children see you cook and eat healthy foods and educate yourself so you instil healthy family habits.
- Don’t let your children drink fizzy drinks regularly, and diet versions are not an acceptable alternative, they are in fact worse due to the artificial sweeteners they contain.
Now your child is more independent, visits to the park, dancing to music and running- around games that you can do together, especially in the fresh air, associate fitness with fun. Throwing and catching a ball, climbing frames and introducing increasingly inventive movement games will aid their development.
The more you do, the more it will become second nature to your child. But it’s tiring looking after toddlers, and the odd CBBC show or DVD is a godsend but, like all screen time, it should be limited.
The body undergoes so many changes as it grows, develops and heads toward puberty, that ‘under 11s’ is rather a broad term, but all these years are important in creating the foundations for a healthy future. Standing and sitting up straight, with your head over your shoulders is the posture you child should aim for, but this isn’t helped by school desks and chairs that are all the same size, irrespective of their height, and aches and pains – which are not growing pains – can result and should be treated. When wearing a backpack, both straps should be used so that undue pressure isn’t put on one shoulder and the heavier books should go at the top not the bottom to prevent the shoulders being pulled backwards and creating imbalance. Ideally the bag should have an adjustable chest strap to prevent the need to round the shoulders.
The six golden rules
- Get children involved in the kitchen from an early age even if it’s messy.
- Don’t pressure them into taking a bite of everything, it’s likely to backfire.
- Hiding the “treat” food makes children want it more.
- Dieting in front of your children can influence their eating habits; try not to make a fuss about food.
- Serving boring vegetables (calorie-counting parents often serve plain steamed vegetables), makes children reluctant to eat them, don’t be afraid to dress up vegetables.
- Don’t give up too soon. Eating preferences often change, so keep preparing a variety of healthy foods and putting them on the table. In young children, it may take 10 or more attempts, over several months, to introduce a new food.
An hour a day of physical activity during these early years will pay dividends later. Aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening sports and exercises will create the perfect template for future good health. If sport’s not your child’s thing, encourage brisk walking, cycling, dancing, skateboarding. And don’t underestimate the importance exercising outside. Being in the fresh air is energising, boosts the immune system and is also calming (providing you’re not walking alongside a busy A-road). Exercise is good for the brain too; it’s improves memory and thinking skills.
The key points with this age group is to help them develop an enjoyable attitude towards exercise. Joining a club or exercising with friends so the social and enjoyment aspect becomes linked to fitness. Karate and discipline sports with co-ordination are often recommended for children who are overactive or find social integration more challenging. This is a great time to develop good posture and core strength. Cycling and swimming can be done as a team sport, with the family or individually.
The teen years are years of rapid change – physical, emotional, cognitive and social. Bodies develop in different ways at different times; no two teenage bodies are the same. Your organs will change in size and capacity, limbs will grow and bones will increase in thickness. The chest and shoulders get broader in boys. In girls, the hips and pelvis get wider. Sweat glands in the armpits and groin area are activated for the first time during puberty, so daily hygiene is very important. And, as glands in the skin on the face, shoulders and back start to become more active, producing more oil, pimples or acne may result; don’t suffer in silence, see a nutritionist, herbalist or dietary specialist for advice on a natural solution.
The six golden rules
- Try to get them to eat plenty of raw or lightly steamed fruit and vegetables – broccoli is a king of veg! How about a bowl with dressing on before the rest of the meal?
- Get them to take a daily fish oil supplement or eat oily fish such as salmon or mackerel twice a week, good for the brain, gut and cardiovascular system.
- Don’t let them see you smoke at all or drink too much, they will think it is acceptable.
- Breakfast is a must; avoid high sugar cereals, read the labels. Eggs are great but a handful of unsalted mixed nuts and a banana is quick and easy.
- Check vitamin D levels; frequently found to be low in children. It’s essential for repair, the gut and maintenance in the body and low levels are linked to depression.
- Teens need approximately 50g of protein a day depending on activity. A small 85-gram piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein. A typical 227-gram piece of meat could have over 50 grams of protein. One 227-gram pot of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein.
Are you doing at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day? This might seem like an impossible task, there’s school, homework and your social life to take into consideration. But exercise has more benefits than you might have realised: it produces chemicals called endorphins that make you feel happy; it helps you sleep better (just don’t work out right before you want to sleep!); it keeps your body at a healthy weight and lowers your risk of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure; it also keeps your bones strong to prevent loss of bone density as you get older. Whether you’re jogging, walking, skateboarding, dancing or playing a team sport, make sure you’re exerting yourself. If you’re not a little breathless, you can’t make your body stronger.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a formal ‘thing’, it can be as simple as walking more briskly to and from school or choosing to take the stairs rather than the lift. Dancing is a great work out so join or start you own exercise class. Follow a recommended YouTube work out individually or with your friends. It’s important that you avoid more extreme exercise routines; it’s better to keep a balance as your bones, muscles and joints are still building.
You’re no longer growing up, but you might be growing out. If you’ve not been taking regular exercise up to this point, now’s a good time to start. Work and social life can dominate leaving little time for looking after you. If you work in an office/at a computer for hours at a time, tiredness will make you slouch a little, and you won’t even notice until you catch sight of your reflection; that slouch will put years on you. This is a great time to start your working life and adult life as you mean to go on. The more correct lifestyle habits become routine activities, part of your identity, the more this will serve you well for life!
The six golden rules
- Make fast food healthy; choose healthy options such as rotisserie chicken, sushi, steamed dumplings and salads.
- Frozen veggies are great and packed full of nutrients.
- Cocktails pile on the pounds; the sweeter they taste the more the calories will be. White wine and vodka and tonic are lower calorie options.
- Chronic dieting for girls can lead to low protein levels and anaemia; eat skinless white meat, lean beef, fish, eggs and pulses.
- Potassium is needed for healthy heart and muscles; two cups of fruit and a plain yoghurt and two cup of veggies will provide all you need.
- Omega-3 fats boost the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain; salmon and tuna are the best source.
The great thing about being in your 20s is that your body is strong, you can push it and you should. Try a combination of aerobic workouts for all round fitness, weight training to build muscle definition and bone density and yoga to stay supple and flexible, then you’ve covered all the bases. Current thinking is to do an hour’s exercise every day; if this is impossible go for three or four hours a week. Something’s better than nothing.
This is a good time to join a gym, running club or get into the habit of including exercise choices as part of your daily working life e.g. walking to the train, taking the stairs, having a brisk walk or going to a gym class after work; get colleagues involved so you are accountable and supportive to others and all mutually benefit. We want to spend time with people who are like us or we aspire to be like, so surround yourself with people who seek the same health goals or who want to exceed them.
In much the same way that hormones spring into life during the teenage years as the body is getting ready for puberty, the diminution of hormones like oestrogen in women and testosterone in men, is setting you up for old age. Naturally occurring anti-ageing factors in the body, such as CoEnzyme Q10, are now in decline. The body starts to become more inelastic and the health of your gastrointestinal tract may manifest as bloating or increasing food sensitivities. This is the time, as your body is getting a little stiffer and slower, increasing the likelihood of spinal and joint pain, that you should seek early intervention and advice and strengthen or fix your body, mind and spirit, rather than reach for the pain killers.
Around this age you will start to lose muscle mass and bone mass. When you lose muscle, your resting metabolism dips and you burn fewer calories, leading to weight gain (women often complain of a thicker waist and men of a paunch appearing). When you lose bone mass, you’ll get shorter, it will be imperceptible for now, but now you know what can happen, you can prevent it or deal with it. Keep a regular check on your weight and waist; goal-setting is empowering!
The six golden rules
- For every decade after 40, there’s roughly a one percent decrease in calorie requirements – that’s the equivalent of one biscuit. Eating every three to four hours helps keep your metabolism high.
- For women calcium is important; aim for 1000mg a day, kale, sardines, broccoli, watercress and soya beans are good sources.
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and shortage is widespread, the best bet is a supplement of about 1000 iu per day.
- Fibre reduces bloating, helps you feel fuller longer and reduces cholesterol and the risk of colon cancer. Aim for a mix of fibre from soluble from fruits and vegetables, and insoluble whole grains and bran.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods; excess sugar in the diet can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
- Eat good quality fats – good sources include avocadoes, nuts, oily fish, coconut oil and butter (not margarine).
Strength training and weight-bearing exercise should form an integral part of your regime now. This will help you retain/regain and build muscle mass and prevent further bone loss. Posture is more important now than ever too. If you’re starting to stoop, stop now. You’re putting additional pressure on the discs at the top of your spine, so if you don’t stop nor will the stoop. Your shoulders should be back, your head over your shoulders and your spine neutral; you’ll appear slimmer and taller and you’ll feel better because you’re putting less pressure on your back and internal organs. Yoga will help to keep your core strong while stretching your muscles and connective tissue to improve and maintain flexibility.
Exercise with intensity for short periods; get up 10 minutes earlier to go for a run or cycle or do some floor exercise. Doing this Monday to Friday will increase your strength, energy and happiness. It’s hard to feel weighed-down by stress as your body breathes deeply, blood rushes to your brain and your immune system gets a wake-up call. Lymph, which has three times the volume of your blood, contributes to your immune system but relies on movement to be circulated. Your motion spreads this healing lotion back into your circulation. Exercise classes or a personal trainer are great ways to be guided to better health.
It’s often said that 60 is the new 40, and why not? If you’ve stayed active and enjoyed a healthy and varied diet, you’ll have been helping to counteract the loss of muscle mass and bone density. You might still open the fridge and wonder why, and get up at least once a night to go to the loo, but don’t worry that is just part growing up! What needs to be taken seriously over the next two decades though is joint degeneration or osteoarthritis; this is where the loss of cartilage around your joints, especially the hip and knee, leads to aches and pains and loss of mobility. Sometimes it can’t be avoided as it may be genetic, but this condition can be successfully managed through treatment, nutrition and supplements. Loss of bone density is part of the ageing process, but some people lose bone density much faster than is normal, and this is called osteoporosis and needs to be treated as this condition increases the risk of fractures. If you want to know whether you’re at risk ask your GP for a DXA scan which can usually be done at your local hospital, or you can ask your chiropractor who can arrange it privately (usually less than £100.)
The six golden rules
- Drink plenty of water; sometimes thirst masks itself as hunger. As you get older, you may not be as quick to notice when you’re thirsty; two litres a day is the aim.
- Because you’re at risk of losing muscle mass, make sure your diet includes about one gram of protein to every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
- Eat more veggies, fruit fish and pulses and limit empty calories like sugars and foods with little nutritional value.
- Limit alcohol as your body cannot process it as well, always have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink.
- Avoid fad diets; eat a wide range of colourful foods.
- A diet high in anti-oxidants found in fresh fruit and vegetables is thought to stave off Alzheimer’s.
We know that improving our physical well-being helps our mental resilience too, so getting fitter now will mean you’ll go in to your 70s, 80s and beyond in a better position to manage illnesses or accidents should they happen. What kind of exercises should you be doing? Well that depends on your current level of fitness; anything you can do to build muscle and strengthen your bones is important now and every little bit of activity counts. What works best is something you enjoy doing so that you keep on doing it. It should stretch you, take you out of your comfort zone to build strength and stamina. If exercise has never been your thing, try making it part of your life for, say, 30 minutes twice a week, building up to five times a week. And you won’t be spoiled for choice in terms of activities, there are plenty of fitness classes running every day of the week and of course brisk walking’s perfect and free.
As you approach retirement your body’s needs change too. Your food choices should be less calorific but the nutritional content has to be high. Your cell turnover is reduced and systems are more prone to breakdown so you need to ensure you have the correct dietary ingredients for repair. You should try to spend a greater proportion of your time on exercise to maintain strength, agility and muscle tone and mass. The advantage is you will literally feel younger and have more energy to enjoy your retirement, your grandchildren and active holidays. Keeping flexible reduces your risk of joint and back injury, but the risks are higher so see your chiropractor and find out where your body is in the timeline of health.
Now you have the time, build a regular or daily routine where you get sweaty and breathless for 30 minutes five times a week. Park further away, walk whenever you can and keep socially active to stimulate your brain. Why not combine the two and join a Tai Chi or Chi Gong class, take up yoga or Pilates?
At this age, we all have similar goals, to remain independent, stay mentally sharp, and keep as mobile as possible, for as long as possible. Which means It’s vital to keep your brain and your body moving. Cognitive decline is a great fear for many people in their 80s and older, so it’s important take up learning something new, like a language or a musical instrument, to keep your brain working hard. Crossword puzzles and sudokus that you’ve been doing for years won’t work here, you need to make new neural connections by taking on fresh mental challenges. Your social network is important too. If you don’t have friends or relatives nearby, why not volunteer or join a club where you can meet and engage with people?
As you get older your muscle and bone mass decrease and the senses that guide your balance -vision, touch, spatial awareness – may all start to deteriorate, and this can make you unsteady on your feet. Fortunately, as with your mind and your muscles, losing your balance is not an inevitable part of ageing; you can keep your sense of balance strong, and restore what’s already been lost, simply by taking the time to do balance exercises on a regular basis (please see ‘Exercise’ section below).
The six golden rules
- Absorption of vitamins and minerals is harder as we get older so the choice of food becomes critical. Canned fruit and vegetables are cheap and can provide good nutrition; examples are tinned sardines, tuna, pulses, carrots, apricots beans, pineapple. Choose fruit in natural juice.
- The immune system becomes weaker with age – eating more zinc in the diet can help boost it. Good sources of zinc include meat and dairy products, whole grain cereals and pulses.
- Constipation is a common problem; drinking plenty of liquids and eating baked beans, jacket potatoes, canned pulses and fruits such as apricots all help. Psyllium seeds and a large glass of water are a good laxative.
- Don’t think about calories; eat as much high quality food as your stomach feels comfortable with.
- Keep your protein intake up, it should form about 20% of your calorie intake. Hard boiled eggs are a great snack or cook a chicken and keep it in the fridge for an easy meal.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health. Oily fish such as canned salmon and tuna are great, but how about smoked salmon for breakfast with scrambled eggs?
No one should ever stop exercising and you should be aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like a brisk walk where you’re not breathing so hard that you can’t carry on a conversation) five days a week. An activity tracker, like a Fit Bit, may give you the motivation to ensure you cover enough steps each day. Don’t neglect your upper body, lower body and core as you need to keep your whole body strong to avoid too much loss of muscle mass. Your fitness routine should include anything that promotes flexibility and helps to keep your connective tissues more elastic. Yoga and Pilates are excellent, but studies have shown that Tai Chi can help people to improve balance and general mobility. As falls become more prevalent with age, exercises that help to improve or keep your sense of balance strong should be done regularly.
OK, so what if you’re finding it hard to get out of your chair, let alone think about jogging around the block? Get medical advice from your chiropractor or GP who can help you take the small steps towards becoming more flexible and able to engage in a fitness routine.
The Team at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend on Sea
And the surrounding areas including Westcliff, Leigh-on-Sea,
Rayleigh, Hockley, Canvey Island, Hadleigh, Rochford and Hullbridge