Did you know that building healthy muscles (although maybe not quite to Hulk proportions) and maintaining them past middle age can not only help you to preserve your health but it can prevent a whole list of diseases linked to muscle atrophy?
Whilst osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, fragile bones and difficulty recovering from stress are becoming an all too prevalent result of our modern sedentary lifestyles, they don’t have to become a part of your life if you factor taking care of your muscles into a well-rounded health programme.
Muscles play a vital role in supporting our overall health and well-being, especially as we age. They’re a critical factor in our metabolic health – turning fuel into motion – body weight control, bone strength and resilience to stress and disease. They are long-lasting, self-healing and they’re able to grow stronger with practice. They do everything from allowing you to walk to keeping your blood flowing.
Unfortunately, muscles steadily decrease in size from around the age of fifty, a process that accelerates with time. Incorporating muscle-building exercises into your fitness regimen can help to slow this process down as well as cutting your risk of injury and helping to ease arthritis pain. It can also improve your sleep, blood-sugar control and even your mental health.
Strong muscles also help to preserve and maintain healthy bone density – especially important for women and the elderly, who are susceptible to osteoporosis. Physical impact and weight-bearing exercise stimulates bone formation; just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, a bone becomes stronger and denser when you regularly place demands upon it. The best way to build strong bones is to put them under a heavy load i.e. lift, carry, drag or otherwise move something with a substantial weight.
Muscle, unfortunately, takes a lot of energy to maintain so if you want to keep it, you literally have to use-it-or-lose-it. By incorporating some kind of weight-bearing, resistance exercise – that is, your body pushes and pulls against some kind of resistance – you’ll benefit from a lot of positive changes including a leaner physique and toned arms and legs.
It doesn’t mean you have to train for the Olympics or tediously do the same exercise over and over. It is however important that you do something, whether it’s free weight training (squats, deadlifts, and presses), using an exercise machine, pushing and pulling elastic bands, or even using your own body weight (push-ups, pull-ups, and planks, for example).
As long as you consider weight-bearing/resistance training an important component of your fitness regimen, along with eating fresh, whole foods, avoiding as many processed foods as possible and managing the stress in your life, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t remain, strong and youthful well into old age.