As we age, it's common to notice that we feel colder than we used to. This is a natural part of the aging process, according to experts. One reason for this is that our skin thins as we get older. Not only do we lose some skin cells, but we also lose fat padding that acts as insulation to keep us warm. This fat loss tends to happen more in the legs and arms, making these areas feel colder than the rest of the body.
Another factor that contributes to feeling colder as we age is the loss of muscle mass. Starting at around age 30, we tend to lose 3% to 8% of muscle each decade. By age 65, many individuals have lost 10% or more of their muscle mass, and by age 80, it can be as much as 30%. Muscle tissue is responsible for generating heat, so less muscle means less warmth.
While feeling colder is generally a normal part of aging, it's still important to mention it to your doctor. In rare cases, feeling colder can be a symptom of an underlying health condition, such as diabetes, poor circulation, heart failure, hypothyroidism, or anemia. However, it's more likely that you would experience other symptoms along with feeling colder if it is related to an underlying condition.
There are ways to combat this issue and stay warmer. Layering clothing, using blankets and sweaters, and staying in warm environments can help. Exercise is also highly recommended, as it can slow down muscle mass loss and increase overall warmth. Even simple activities like walking or doing strength exercises in a chair can make a difference. Exercise has numerous other health benefits as well, including improving heart health, mental health, and reducing the risk of injury.
In summary, feeling colder as we age is a normal part of the aging process. It's primarily due to the thinning of the skin and the loss of muscle mass. While it's generally nothing to worry about, it's still a good idea to discuss it with your doctor. In the meantime, staying warm with blankets, layering clothing, and exercising regularly can help combat the issue and improve overall well-being.