Health Q & A is a LKN Connect Health & Wellness column published monthly. The readership is invited to submit questions falling within the fields of health promotion, wellness, and disease prevention. Content areas can include nutrition, diet, weight loss, supplementation, fitness, exercise, stress and anxiety, ancestral health, and epigenetics among others. Please direct questions for Health Q & A directly to Wayne Coolidge email@example.com
Donna W asks: I heard a trainer on a video say that muscle is our friend. Is that true even as we age?
Muscle is everybody’s friend. That relationship becomes even more important to us as we age.
Losing muscle as we age
Muscle, the very physical attribute that we need to help us healthfully and efficiently navigate middle and old age, begins a steady and then rapid decline around age 40. The scientific name for age-related muscle loss is “sarcopenia.” Symptoms of sarcopenia are known to start developing as early as the fourth decade of life. It’s been estimated that we could lose 1% of our muscle each year after the age of 40.
There’s considerable evidence that muscle mass is critical to healthy aging and longevity in both men and women. I also believe that the actions required to build muscle (resistance training, increasing physical activity, and proper nutrition) is more valuable to our health than simply possessing it.
Muscle is positively correlated with successful aging. I know what it takes to build muscle in anyone, at any age. The regimen includes resistance training, workout intensity and consistency, proper nutrition, rest, recuperation, and proper supplementation. The effort and lifestyle that must be undertaken to maintain and achieve muscle growth will lead to high-level wellness through healthy cellular aging.
The role of muscle in disease prevention
It’s well-documented that inflammation is the initial instigator of most, if not all, chronic disease. Muscle extends anti-inflammatory benefits to the body. Body fat plays the opposite role, by interfering with hormones and producing inflammatory cytokines[2,3]. Muscle’s role in regulating inflammation and possibly preventing diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases is well known in scientific circles. Public health must do a better job of publicizing the role of muscle in disease prevention.
Muscle is the force behind body movement.
Scientists who study the effects of aging are quick to point out that age-related muscle loss resulting in decreased mobility is the beginning of the end of functional movement and self-reliance. The more muscle that you build and maintain through adulthood, middle age, and into old age, the better off you’ll be in terms of maintaining your independence. I always say that aging is an athletic event. The longer it takes before getting up and out of a chair becomes a physical challenge, the longer you’ll enjoy your independence. If you just turned 40 and believe it’s too early to think about these things, please believe me, it’s not. On the other hand, it’s never too late to start.
Muscle keeps you active and dynamic.
Muscle is a dynamic, active tissue that requires energy for its maintenance. Fat contributes little metabolically and nothing to movement. Fat does nothing more than provide a heavier load for muscles to move. Muscle is your friend because of its ability to counter the effects of, and contribute to the elimination of, unwanted body fat. Muscle accomplishes that by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. Your body uses more calories at rest just to feed and maintain muscle. A big powerful V8 engine requires more fuel than a puny little four-cylinder engine, just as a body with more muscle requires more fuel than a weak body with little muscle.
Muscle is indeed your friend.
A close, personal friendship should be established and maintained throughout the lifespan. Muscle, and the activity needed to build and maintain it are your best means of ensuring a life filled with health and productive longevity.
- Chung HY, Cesari M, Anton S, et al. Molecular inflammation: underpinnings of aging and age-related diseases. Ageing Res Rev. 2009;8(1):18–30.
- Nishimura S, Manabe I, Nagai R. Adipose tissue inflammation in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Discov Med. 2009;8(41):55–60.
- Wisse BE. The inflammatory syndrome: the role of adipose tissue cytokines in metabolic disorders linked to obesity. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2004;15(11):2792–2800.
- Ciccolo JT, Carr LJ, Krupel KL, et al. The role of resistance training in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2010;4:293–308.
Q&A images courtesy Pixabay.com
Wayne Coolidge, Jr., M.Ed., CHES is an author, speaker, and innovative Health Promotion Scholar-Practitioner. He owns Wayne Coolidge Health Promotion, a consulting firm specializing in healthy aging, nutrition, nutritional supplementation, fat loss, fitness, and disease prevention. His expertise is designing lifestyle-optimization strategies leading to positive genetic expression, controlled cellular aging, health, and wellness. He has accumulated more than 31,000 hours of one-on-one training and personal consultation experience over a 37-year career. Wayne’s web site www.waynecoolidge.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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