As your body starts to age, it becomes more important than ever to maintain good exercise habits. Studies have found that the period around the age of 45 is when people start to develop more serious risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease, which can include heart attack and stroke. Your health at midlife also puts you at greater risk of degenerative diseases when you’re older. For instance, obesity in your middle age years can put you at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by a factor of four times.
The unfortunate Catch-22 is that midlife is also when people start to slow down and their levels of exercise and fitness start to decrease. All of this makes it incredibly important for people to develop and maintain good exercise habits as they approach their middle years, as doing so not only puts you at better odds of preventing degenerative diseases, but can also make your heart ‘younger’.
To understand how our users’ exercise habits change while they age, we took a look at anonymized data collected by their Motiv Rings over a period of time. Here’s what we found:
Activity Decreased as People Got Older
While it was surprising to see that people under the age of 35 were less active than people between the ages of 35 and 55, it was not surprising to see people over the age of 55 were moving less. On average, they were taking about 500 fewer steps every day than the next youngest age bracket.
That may not seem like a significant gap when you look only daily average steps. But when you consider how this plays out over an entire week, it means that if our users were keeping the same pace as the middle age bracket, it could account for an entire day without taking a single step.
The good news is that the gap in our users isn’t insurmountable and that, from parking a little further away or just taking the stairs, there are really simple ways to work some more activity into the day – and we can help you track it all.
Resting Heart Rate Increased with Age
Because Resting Heart Rate (RHR) is an important stat to keep an eye on, we also looked into how those patterns shifted with age. We found that our users aged 55 and older, as well as our users between the ages of 35 and 55, have an RHR that’s about 5 beats per minute higher than our users under the age of 35.
Like stats on average steps, that might not seem incredibly significant when you think about the span of a single minute. But when you consider that our users sleep about 7-9 hours a night, that’s an extra 2100 – 2700 heartbeats in the span of a single night’s rest due to less cardiovascular efficiency.
RHR is also a measurement that can be easy to affect. You can lower your RHR through regular, old fashioned exercise, but you can also affect it by staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and managing your stress effectively. If you’re looking for ways to improve your RHR, check out this article.
Sleep Patterns Changed
RHR is not the only resting metric that matters to your health. How long you sleep is also incredibly important, as it helps your body recharge so you can maintain the same fitness routine the next day, helps you maintain stress, and can help you maintain your stress and improve your mood.
Because Motiv Ring tracks sleep duration and restlessness in addition to tracking your RHR at night, we took a look at when our users were getting to bed and when they were getting up. We weren’t shocked to see that our younger users were going to bed later every night, and waking up a little later every morning. Young people do that, right? Generally speaking, our youngest users were not going to bed until around 11:30 PM every night and weren’t getting up until around 7:30.
Our users in the older two age brackets were most likely to fall asleep at 10:30 PM, and were getting out of bed at around 6:30 AM every day. So the good news is that, with a few exceptions, everyone seemed to be getting the recommended 7 – 9 hours every night. The really interesting finding is that these patterns correspond to a larger pattern that develops as you get older.
Your circadian rhythms, the biological clock that ticks in the back of your brain and regulates biological functions, actually start to change as you age. That’s why you often hear the stereotype that old people go to bed before the sun sets.
This is due to the fact that your body changes how certain genes that control your circadian rhythms are expressed, and this can result in everything from falling asleep earlier and waking up earlier, having more restless sleep, and changes in your body temperature.
If you are looking for tips to get better rest at night, check out this article from the National Sleep Foundation.
Your body and your activity changing as you age are to be expected. But it’s important that you control everything you can – from keeping yourself as active as possible to paying attention to your cardiovascular health and making sure you get enough sleep at night.
We’re going to keep publishing more insights from the anonymous data of our users to understand their health and give them the tools to keep living better. What are some things you’d be interested in hearing about? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.