Aging is inevitable, and as your body grows older, the activities you find easy back in your 20s may be notably harder to do. Cells and organs, like most things, wear and tear over time. How well organs function depends on the condition and health of your cells. And sometimes, older cells can take its toll to your daily activities.
Even though most functions remain adequate, the decline in organ function means that older people are less able to handle various stresses—including strenuous physical activity such as running. In fact, the World Masters Athletics published a study that concludes how runners slow down about 7 percent per decade in their 40s, 50s, and 60s (and more quickly after that).
Here are 6 main reasons why running gets harder in your 30s:
1. Your heart gets slower
Every time you run, your heart pumps twice as fast to keep up and provide enough oxygen to the muscles. This oxygen is used to create the energy that propels your muscles forward. But due to aging, the number of nerve receptors decline from about 30 onwards, as well as your maximum heart rate starts to decline (by about one beat per minute every year).
As an effect, the rate at which oxygen is pumped to your muscles when you exercise is reduced and you feel tired easily, find yourself gasping for air and running generally harder than before.
2. You become less flexible
You may not notice it but flexibility has something to do with running. The tendons in your arms, legs and core play a huge part in making it easier for you. But, as you age, these tendons start to lose their elasticity. What this means for running is less propulsion in your stride, slowing your pace and increasing the level of physical exertion required to go the same distance.
3. Your muscle mass is reduced
You may have read about losing muscle mass as you age, but did you know it has an impact in running too? When your muscles start to deteriorate as you reach the age of 30, your lower limbs are weakened, which are essential in your running game.
Lower muscle mass could also factor in weight gain, which can be one of the reasons why it is harder for you to run.
4. Your bone density is reduced
Same with muscle mass, the bone density of middle aged individuals hit its prime during their 20s-30s. After that, bone resorption outpaces the formation of new bones, causing your bones to become thinner and more brittle. The reason why older people seems to shrink as they get older.
This also increases the risks of Osteoporosis which can further make running even harder.
5. You gain weight
As bone density and lean muscle mass decrease and take their toll on your health, your metabolism also gets slower as you age, the reason why many older people tend to ‘balloon’ up when they reach the age of 30.
Additional weight obviously makes running harder as one struggles to carry his or her own weight. The heavier the body, the more metabolic energy it will need to be able to move at the very least.
6. You recover and heal slower
As you age, your cellular tissues can’t repair and regenerate as fast as they once did back in your 20s. Running puts the cells in your bones, joints, tendons and muscles under pressure, and in your thirties they take a little longer to get back to full strength. That’s why it’s so important to develop a running regime that suits your age and allows for cell recovery.