The answer to why we need muscle

If you’ve followed my other articles or videos for a while then you probably know how much passion I have about healthy living as a whole, and making it our lifestyle. I LOVE being active, which includes any types of activities — whatever we can do, and whenever we can do it. Although we often think that we can not gain muscle as we age, or if we can it will be so hard to do so. Is that true? And why do you think it’s so important to have sufficient amounts of muscle, especially as we age?

Muscles are important, but not for impressing others or looking good in the mirror. And having enough muscle as we age can not only help with carrying our groceries, there are actually many more reasons. As we age, we lose muscle mass and strength unless we specifically do something to slow down the process. You know the saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it”? We need to train our muscles, which requires a combination of the correct nutrition, resistance training, and high intensity interval training (of course the intensity will depend on your fitness level).

Muscle growth (hypertrophy) happens when we give stress to muscle fiber. As it regenerates and repairs itself, growth happens. Of course we need to repeat this on a regular basis and support it with enough rest and a correct nutritional strategy. But if we do this we can gain muscle at any age, just by creating enough stimulus. If you did this already when you were young then it will be much easier to keep doing it as you age, but even if you didn’t you can still gain strength and improve your muscle mass.

Skeletal muscle accounts for about 45% of human body mass and has an essential role in metabolism and movement. Some of the benefits of having adequate amounts of muscle including helping with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, increasing the metabolism, reducing the risk of falling, improving recovery, increasing immune strength, increasing energy, helping you age better, strong bone density, improved heart health, balancing your hormones, improved sleep, improved recovery, improved mood, and keeping your brain healthy, which can improve your thinking and your confidence.

If you are not doing any resistance training or bodyweight training that pushes your body, you may end up with sarcopenia, which is the age-related decrease in lean muscle mass. It can alter your activity level and powerfully affect your quality of life. The good news is that whatever your fitness level, or your ability to go to a gym or hire a fitness trainer, you still can do a lot on your own without any equipment. With activities such as pushups (or kneeling push-ups or wall push-ups for an easier variation), squats, brisk walks, and stretch band exercises you can do so many things with a minimum of equipment.

We have lots of resources to support us, you just need to find the meaning for you to help push you and motivate you to start. Remember, you have only one place to live — your own body. Start by taking it just one day at a time, and if you are already doing regular exercise then try something that you never did before to push your limits. We need to challenge ourselves to keep growing and finding motivation. I promise you, if you do this then the next day you will feel so much better than the day before.

Resources

• ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6916202

• sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128000403000029

• ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537236/

• ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874224/

• health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/preserve-your-muscle-mass

• nutrition.org/can-we-prevent-muscle-loss-as-we-age/

• the-scientist.com/features/how-muscles-age—and-how-exercise-can-slow-it-64708

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Ayda Ersoy, Nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.), Master Trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro), Registered Yoga Teacher, Founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness, Founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.

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