Could muscles be the key to staying young?

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Right now, you’re the youngest you’ll ever be. But are you the fittest?

Dr. Caroline Apovian, MD of the Boston Medical Center says that if you’re over 30, you’re going to lose 1% of muscle annually. (http://www.bu.edu/bostonia/wpassets/issues/summer13/apovian.pdf)

Muscle loss increases even more after people hit the big 4-0.  The condition is called sarcopenia, and according to the Journal of Cachexia, it affects 5-13% of people ages 60-70, and half of people above the age of 80.  And, while some people are calling sarcopenia “the new Osteoporosis”, it is preventable. 

No surprises, it starts with what you eat.  Getting enough protein is crucial to building muscle mass. As people age, they eat less, and that tends to deprive them of nutrients, like muscle building amino acids.

In fact, Fox News reports that people should eat twice the amount of the daily recommended protein as they age to help muscles grow.

What you drink is important too. We know this is hard to hear, but cutting your alcohol consumption could be beneficial to building strong muscles. Alcohol can dehydrate you, which affects muscle function. Most nutrition experts recommend limiting your intake to 1 drink a day if you’re female and 2 a day if you’re male.

According to a study by the University of Toronto, as some people age, they sleep less. Turns out getting enough sleep also helps build muscles. 8-10 hours a night aids in muscle recovery, releases growth hormones.  So hit the snooze button!

Older people should be sure they get enough Vitamin D, which helps regulate calcium and phosphorus absorption. These nutrients help build strong teeth and bones. Luckily Vitamin D is very easy to get-- just step out and enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes a day. 

Hitting the gym and lifting those weights is a must in preventing muscle loss.. In fact, according to WebMD, if you want to see results, you’re going to have to work out more regularly than you did in your 20’s. 

 

Working out more regularly might seem like a chore, but there’s good news:  the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal reports that when people in their 60’s and 70’s started weight training, they build muscles identical to people in their 40’s. Proof that when it comes to building muscle and staying healthy, age is just a number. 

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