Article at a Glance
- Various parts of the human body start to suffer subtle age-associated decline in functioning starting in the third decade.
- The 30’s are a prime time to incorporate a healthier lifestyle to counteract age-related changes.
- Both high-tech treatments and lifestyle alterations can help delay the effects of aging.
Men often first start thinking about aging in their 30’s. Physical changes at 30 can be scary because while those in their 30’s may still feel young, a 30-year-old body still has undergone three decades worth of wear and tear.
Knowing what physical changes you can expect in your 30’s is the first step to aging better. So here are a few of the changes to be on the lookout for, as well as some evidence-based therapies to try to counteract them.
Physical Changes at 30 – Time to Make Changes
If you’re in your 30’s, you may already have noticed you don’t perform athletically as well as you did in your 20’s, your hangovers may be less easy to overcome, and your stomach might respond less-favorably to eating an entire pizza.
This is because many organs and systems start to go through some decline of function after the third decade of life. For example, muscle tissue, eye function, metabolism, sexual function, and cognition start to decrease. Some changes are so subtle, you may not even detect a difference.
The 30’s are therefore a prime time to start incorporating health maintenance techniques in order to obtain optimal results and promote longevity.
Drop in Athletic Performance
It’s not a coincidence that most male professional athletes retire in their 30’s. Although performance can still be high after the third decade, the natural aging process causes a slight decline compared to the 20’s.
Physical capacity and muscle strength generally peak between 20 and 30 years of age and then start to decline [R]. This is partly due to the fact that the body isn’t able to provide muscles with oxygen at the same high rate it did before due to a drop in cardiac output and VO2Max [R]. This means muscles can’t repair as fast post-exercise. In fact, endurance has been shown to decrease by 15% per decade after the age of 30 [R]. In addition, muscle atrophy increases by 1% every year post-30 [R].
VO2Max, or aerobic power, is generally accepted as an accurate indicator of fitness level and thus increasing it is associated with enhanced physical performance. Regular endurance training attenuates age-related decrease in VO2Max [R]. In addition, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) significantly increases VO2Max [R].
Changes in Mitochondria Function
Mitochondria are the energy-generating organelles found in all cells. Their function decreases with age, which in turn negatively affects all energy-demanding processes in the body.
How can one overcome this? High-intensity interval training may help, as HIIT improves age-related decline in mitochondria [R].
In addition, nicotinamide riboside (NR) supplements can be used. NR is a precursor of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is a compound in the body that plays a key role in mitochondria function [R]. An increase in NAD is positively correlated with an increase in mitochondrial function, and thus energy production. A recent study found that oral administration of NR supplements led to an increase of NAD levels by approximately 60% [R].
Testosterone Levels Begin to Decline
Between the ages of 30 and 40, testosterone starts to gradually drop in men at a rate of about 1%-2% per year [R, R]. As a result, the body progressively starts to experience changes in libido, erectile function, bone density, and lean muscle mass, and the risk for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome increases [R].
These effects can become chronic in later decades if left untreated, so at 30, it’s important to work toward slowing these changes. Exercising more and improving sleep can contribute to an increase in testosterone levels [R].
In some cases, low testosterone may require testosterone replacement therapy [R]. If you have questions about maintaining or enhancing your testosterone levels, it’s best to speak to a professional who specializes in hormonal health.
Metabolism is the process by which the food we consume is converted into energy we can use. A slow metabolism is associated with low energy levels and high fat storage, while a fast metabolism is linked to high energy levels and low fat storage. As we age, our metabolic rate decreases, putting us at risk of weight gain, even if our caloric intake and exercise stay constant [R, R]. Hormonal changes, loss of muscle, and a decrease in mitochondrial function all contribute to an overall decelerating metabolic rate with age.
One easy way to maintain favorable metabolic rates is through hydration. One study showed that the consumption of 500 ml of water increased the metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 minutes of drinking and reached its maximum after 30-40 minutes [R]. You can track your hydration using a smart bottle, such as Hidrate Spark 2.0.
Additionally, increasing one’s activity level can compensate for the anticipated decline in metabolic rate in middle-age. During a workout session, you require more energy than at rest, so the body has to do more to meet demands by increasing metabolism. Vigorous exercise can even keep the metabolic rate elevated for hours after the session [R].
Changes in pH
Our cells tend to become more acidic with age because of a progressive loss of pH control [R, R]. This affects metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and protein functioning and can result in diseases like osteoporosis and kidney stones [R, R]. Acidity is even a favorable condition for cancer growth [R]. It’s therefore recommended to control acid to maintain your health.
The foods we eat can lead our bodies to become more acidic or more alkaline (the opposite of acidic). For example, cola drinks are high in phosphorus, which shifts the body into a more acidic pH, so avoiding them helps keep the body more alkaline [R, R]. Diets richer in fruits and vegetables and lower in meat are also linked to a more favorable alkaline pH [R, R]. In addition, some alkalizing dietary supplements can also decrease the body’s acidity [R].
Loss of Flexibility
Flexibility also diminishes with age, particularly starting in the 30’s for men [R]. Flexibility has been associated with the prevention of and relief from lower back pain, prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, and improvement of posture [R]. In addition, it has been suggested to improve athletic performance [R].
In order to maintain flexibility, it is recommended to complete a series of stretching exercises for each of the major muscle-tendon groups at least twice a week at minimum, and five times a week for maximum improvement [R, R].
Practicing yoga has also been shown to enhance flexibility. Yoga poses stretch your muscles and aim to increase your range of motion, which is key to a more flexible body. One study found that regular yoga during a 3-month period resulted in improved performance on flexibility testing [R].
Whether the effects of the above changes have yet been felt, the 30’s are a prime time to consider some lifestyle modifications in order to age as well as you can.
To find out more, start by browsing through our directory of health and longevity clinics where you can connect with the right places to start taking control of your own aging process.
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