Aging changes in body shape
Your body shape changes naturally as you age. Some of these changes cannot be avoided but your lifestyle choices may slow or speed the process.
The human body is made up of fat, lean tissue (muscles and organs), bones, and water. After age 30, the people tend to lose lean tissue. Your muscles, liver, kidney, and other organs may lose some of their cells. This process of muscle loss is called atrophy. Bones may lose some of their minerals and become less dense (a condition called osteopenia, or at its later stage, osteoporosis). Tissue loss reduces the amount of water in your body.
The amount of body fat goes up steadily after age 30 and may rise by as much as 30%. Fat tissue builds up toward the center of the body, including around the internal organs. However, the layer of fat under the skin (subcutaneous) gets smaller.
You tendency to become shorter occurs among all races and both sexes. Height loss is related to aging changes in the bones, muscles, and joints. People typically lose about 1 cm (0.4 inches) every 10 years after age 40. Height loss is even more rapid after age 70. You may lose a total of 1 to 3 inches in height as you age. You can help prevent loss of height by following a healthy diet, staying physically active, and preventing and treating bone loss (osteoporosis).
Less muscle in the legs muscle and stiffer joints can make moving around harder. Excess body fat and changes in body shape also affect your balance making falls more likely.
Changes in total body weight vary for men and woman. Men often gain weight until about age 55, and then begin to lose weight later in life. This may be related to a drop in the male sex hormone testosterone. Women usually gain weight until age 65, and then begin to lose weight. Weight loss in later life occurs in part because lean muscle tissue is replaced with fat. Diet and exercise habits can play a large role in a person's weight changes over life.
Your lifestyle choices affect how quickly the aging process takes place. Some things you can do to reduce age-related body changes are:
- Get regular exercise.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and optimal amounts of healthy fats.
- Limit your alcohol use.
- Avoid tobacco products and illicit drugs.
Minaker KL. Common clinical sequelae of aging. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 24.
Shah K, Villareal DT. Obesity. In: Fillit HM, Rockwood K. eds. Brocklehurst’s Textbook of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier. 2010;chap 83.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
An Extensive Guide to the Flu Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Moringa: The New Super Food?
How to Choose Healthy Juices
Psoriasis Skin-Care Secrets
7 Must-Know Facts About the New Health Insurance Law
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.