How you manage your muscles now might affect your future more than you realize! Because muscle strength is directly associated with functionality and independence, it is important to keep your muscles toned up, because shrinking skeletal muscle mass can lead to declining health. Age related loss of muscle and function is closely related to loss of bone tissue, and as well, can significantly contribute both to disabilities and several major chronic diseases. Are you ready to learn about one strategy that reduces muscle loss and increases the enjoyment of your life? Read on.
Resistance training (RT) consists of repetitious exercises with weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or even one’s own body weight. It increases growth hormone, which improves protein synthesis in muscle and bone, and increases muscle strength. In conjunction with an adequate protein intake, RT helps older people gain muscle strength and size. It also prevents decline in skeletal muscle mass and function when the mechanical stimuli provided by the tasks of daily living are not sufficient to offset these age-related declines. Adults who do not perform RT often experience a fifty percent reduction in fast-twitch fibers by 80 years of age. On the other hand, individuals who do resistance-training exercises can actually experience increases in muscle strength, function, and mass well into their 90s! RT also improves balance in frail elderly individuals.
RT can also benefit persons with myositis (inflammation of the muscles) by reducing the activity of genes involved in inflammation. For individuals prone to high blood sugar or sluggish metabolisms, RT can prove to be a therapeutic activity as well. It improves the ability of the muscle cells to respond to insulin and increases resting energy expenditures.
Just one caution here: If you are not used to exercise, first build up your muscles by engaging in modest aerobic exercise and stretching. Be sure to discuss with your doctor your desire to start RT and would it be safe for you with your current medical conditions. Take precautions and know your limitations, start slow and gradually work up to your goals. Your efforts will pay off.
Melov, S., et al., Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070522210926.htm
Lundberg, I.E., et al., Molecular effects of exercise in patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease. Natl Clin Pract Rheumatol, 4(11):597-604, 2008
Reviewed by P.S. on Sept. 12, 2017