Is Your Body Aging Faster Than It Should Be?

Slower walking may be a sign that you are aging faster than you should be.

Slow Walking

If your walking pace slows while you're in your 40s, it may be a sign you're aging faster than is typical. Walking is one of the easiest and best exercises you can do. To start a walking program, begin with 5 minutes a day and build up to 30 minutes. Try to work up to 100 steps a minute. (To track this, count your steps for 10 seconds and multiply by six.) To make it easier, wear supportive walking shoes and walk with a buddy.

Sun spots are common from sun exposure as you age.

Sun Spots

Brown sun spots most often appear on your face, hands, and arms. They're common, especially for people over 50. Most are harmless and are caused by years of being in the sun. See your doctor if they:

  • Are black
  • Change shape
  • Bleed
  • Have a rough border

Wear sunscreen and cover up in the sun to help prevent them. Avoid being outdoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest.

Memory problems can start to appear in your 40s.

Memory Problems

Mild memory changes go along with aging and can start as early as your 40s. It might take you longer to recall names or facts or remember why you went upstairs. But most cases of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia don't happen until after age 65. And dementia is not a normal part of aging. To help keep your mind sharp:

  • Eat healthy
  • Stay socially active
  • Exercise
Keep joints flexible with flexibility, strength-training, and aerobic exercises.

Achy Joints

Not everyone gets stiff joints when they get older. But your chances of getting osteoarthritis go up as you age. Men tend to get symptoms after age 45, and women after 55. There's no cure, but you can slow its progress. As little as an hour of exercise a week might help. Do flexibility, strength-training, and aerobic exercises. If you're new to exercise, see your doctor first.

Your skin produces less oil as you age so it may be drier.

Dry Skin

Your skin makes less oil as you age. It can become dry and dull, especially if you're over 40. But dryness can also be caused by things you do (or don't do). To prevent it:

  • Take short baths or showers using warm -- not hot -- water.
  • Clean your skin gently and moisturize well.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Don't spend a lot of time in dry air.

If your skin is still very dry and itchy, see a dermatologist to rule out medical issues.

You may bruise more easily after age 60 due to skin thinning and more fragile blood vessels.

Easy Bruising

This gets more common once you pass 60. Your skin gets thinner and loses fat as you get older. Your blood vessels also get more fragile. Even some medicines can lead to more bruising. Most bruises are harmless and go away on their own. See your doctor if:

  • You often have lots of large bruises, especially on your chest, back, or face.
  • You started bruising after beginning a new drug.
Having trouble climbing stairs may also happen as you get older.

Problems Climbing Stairs

It's normal to sometimes have trouble with steps. But if it happens often as you get older, it could mean you'll struggle with other daily activities. Maybe it's because you don't exercise regularly. If that's the case, check with your doctor, then slowly add stair-climbing to your routine. You could also have pain or balance issues, or medication could be to blame. See your doctor to rule out things like heart problems or arthritis.

Your waistline may expand as you age.

Thick Waistline

Body fat tends to shift to your belly as you get older. This is especially true for women after menopause. No matter what your age, a thick waist can come with health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Risks go up when your waist is more than 35 inches if you're a woman or more than 40 if you're a man. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the best ways to keep your waist in line.

Grip strength starts to diminish in your 50s.

Hand Strength

You might find your hands have to work harder opening a jar, or your hold on the steering wheel isn't as firm. Your grip strength usually starts to drop in your 50s. You can keep your hands strong by playing with clay, squishing a stress ball, or wringing water out of a washcloth. If you lose your grip strength early or suddenly, it could be a sign of arthritis, nerve damage, or another health issue.

Vision issues may increase as you get older.

Vision Issues

After you hit your 40s, you'll likely have trouble seeing things close-up, like reading a menu. It's called presbyopia. Sometimes, aging brings more serious issues like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. To cut your risk:

  • Wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB light
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • See your eye doctor for annual checkups
Estrogen levels drop as you get older leading to irregular menstrual periods.

Irregular Periods

Your periods usually become less regular in your late 30s or early 40s. That's perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause. Your body makes less estrogen. That means your periods may be lighter and shorter, or come less often. Check with your doctor if your periods suddenly become very different or painful, especially in your 30s. It could be a sign of early menopause.

Sources:

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. Getty Images
  2. Getty Images
  3. Getty Images
  4. Getty Images
  5. Getty Images
  6. Getty Images
  7. Getty Images
  8. Getty Images
  9. Getty Images
  10. Getty Images
  11. Getty Images

REFERENCES:

  • JAMA Network Open: "Association of Neurocognitive and Physical Function With Gait Speed in Midlife."
  • HealthinAging.org: "Walking Tips For Older Adults."
  • Mayo Clinic: "Age spots (liver spots)," "Aging: What to expect," "Dry skin," "Easy bruising: Why does it happen," "Belly fat in women: Taking — and keeping — it off."
  • National Institute on Aging: "Skin Care and Aging."
  • American Psychological Association: "Memory Changes in Older Adults."
  • CDC: "What Is Dementia?"
  • Harvard Health Publishing: "Exercise: Rx for overcoming osteoarthritis," "Why do I bruise more easily as I age?" "Two questions can reveal mobility problems in seniors," "Give grip strength a hand," "Abdominal fat and what to do about it."
  • Best Practice & Research: Clinical Rheumatology: "Why is Osteoarthritis an Age-Related Disease?"
  • Consumer Reports: "What It Means If You Bruise Easily."
  • American Academy of Dermatology: "11 Ways to Reduce Premature Skin Aging."
  • Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: "Self-Reported Difficulty in Climbing Up or Down Stairs in Nondisabled Elderly."
  • Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation: "Evaluation of stair climbing in elderly people."
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk."
  • Age: "Age-related change in handgrip strength in men and women: is muscle quality a contributing factor?"
  • American Optometric Association: "Adult Vision: 41 to 60 Years of Age."
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Best Way to Age-Proof Your Vision."
  • Cleveland Clinic: "Is My Period Normal? How Menstrual Cycles Change With Age."
  • Office on Women's Health: "Early or Premature Menopause."
WebMD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information