3 Ways to Maintain Your Muscle Mass as You Get Older

3 Ways to Maintain Your Muscle Mass as You Get Older

Popeye relied on spinach for his muscle power, but for us, it takes a bit more effort. Our bodies boast over 600 muscles, ranging from those that work autonomously to those we control consciously. These muscles facilitate daily activities like walking, standing, and lifting, underscoring their crucial role in our lives.

However, as we age, our muscles inevitably lose size, strength, and functionality, posing challenges to even the simplest tasks. Weak muscles also elevate the risk of falls, fractures, chronic conditions, and ultimately, a shorter life span. Hence, it becomes imperative to take proactive measures to preserve our muscle mass.

Unlocking the Benefits of Muscle Maintenance

Fires Up Your Metabolism

Building and maintaining muscle mass can rev up our metabolism, aiding in weight management and promoting overall health. Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES, emphasizes the importance of muscle tissue in maintaining metabolic function, which becomes particularly crucial as we age:

A higher muscle mass translates to a higher basal metabolic rate, resulting in increased calorie burn even at rest.

Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight is paramount for longevity, with studies associating it with a longer lifespan.

Supports Healthy Aging

Muscle mass preservation holds the key to healthy aging, countering the natural decline known as sarcopenia. Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, underscores the significance of combating muscle loss, as it directly impacts mobility and independence with age. By investing in muscle health, individuals can prolong their active, mobile, and independent lifestyles well into old age.

Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases

Studies have established a strong link between higher muscle mass and a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Thomason highlights the long-term health benefits associated with increased muscle mass, emphasizing its role in mitigating various health conditions. Notably, research has shown that adults with higher muscle tissue exhibit significantly lower rates of cardiovascular events and chronic diseases.

Supports Overall Well-Being

Preserving muscle mass extends beyond physical strength, positively impacting other bodily systems such as the immune system, bone health, and mental well-being. Taub-Dix underscores the multifaceted benefits of muscle maintenance, emphasizing its role in bolstering immune function, improving bone density, and enhancing mental health. Regular exercise not only helps maintain muscle mass but also strengthens immune system function, reducing the risk of illnesses and infections.

3 Strategies for Muscle Maintenance

1. Eat Enough Protein

Protein serves as the building block for muscle tissue, making adequate protein intake crucial for muscle maintenance. Thomason emphasizes the importance of consuming protein-rich foods throughout the day to support muscle health. While animal protein sources like chicken, eggs, and dairy are popular options, plant-based alternatives such as tofu, beans, and nuts also offer substantial protein content. Research suggests that adults may benefit from higher protein intake, with recommendations ranging from 1.3 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

2. Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity is essential for preserving muscle mass and overall health. Engaging in weight-bearing exercises such as walking or running helps maintain muscle mass and protects bone health. Strong muscles also play a crucial role in preventing falls, a significant risk factor for age-related decline. Finding enjoyable forms of exercise is key to consistency, whether it’s dancing, hiking, or attending gym classes.

3. Incorporate Strength Training

Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a cornerstone of muscle maintenance and longevity. Thomason emphasizes the benefits of strength training in building and preserving muscle mass, improving metabolism, and promoting longevity. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend incorporating two weekly strength-training sessions targeting major muscle groups. Whether using free weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises, strength training offers a versatile and effective way to maintain muscle health.

Additional Considerations for Muscle Maintenance

In addition to protein intake and regular exercise, other factors contribute to muscle maintenance and overall well-being. Ensuring an adequate calorie intake provides essential nutrients and energy for muscle function and recovery. Moreover, prioritizing sufficient sleep is crucial for muscle repair and regeneration, promoting overall health and longevity. Research suggests that quality sleep is associated with a longer lifespan, highlighting its importance in nurturing muscles and defying aging.

Final Thoughts

While we cannot turn back the hands of time, we can take proactive steps to support longevity and improve our quality of life. Maintaining muscle mass plays a vital role in promoting metabolic health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and supporting overall well-being.

By incorporating strategies such as adequate protein intake, regular physical activity, and strength training into our lifestyles, we can preserve muscle health and embrace the years ahead with vitality and strength.

Remember to nourish your body with proper nutrition, stay physically active, and prioritize restorative sleep—your muscles will thank you for it!

Category: Featured