Sarcopenia, the muscular equivalent of osteoporosis, is age-related muscular deterioration. It starts when you turn 40, and causes a decline of roughly 1% per year. At 50, it picks up speed, so unless you started with a good amount of muscle mass, you could see a muscle loss of as much as 50% by the time you’re 75 – really! There is good news though – you can stave off muscle weakening if you start right now – today.
1) Move it or lose it! Stretch and Exercise!
Don’t just sit there – move it, bend it, lift it or work it. During TV commercials, do squats to strengthen your hamstrings and quads. Keep a set of low weight dumbbells or resistance bands by your office chair do a couple of arm reps every hour. If you totally don’t know how to get started, hire a personal trainer (one who’s experienced working with ‘mature’ adults!) for one hour to set up a lifting routine customized for you. “Without question, resistance exercise is the most powerful intervention to address muscle loss,” says Nathan K. LeBrasseur, Ph.D., of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic. Exercise increases strength, aerobic capacity and muscle protein synthesis and should be your first line of defense in slowing down sarcopenia.
2) Eat quality protein!
Protein repairs and rebuilds muscle fiber. Not sure how much protein you should consume in a day? Take your body weight in pounds, divide it in half and subtract 10. If you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 65 grams of protein per day, spread more or less evenly across your meals and snacks. (Note that if you have renal issues, check with your doctor first.) The type of protein you eat counts too. The best sources are grass-fed beef, whey protein, lentils, wild-caught fish like salmon and tuna and organic chicken.
3) Increase your consumption of omega-3’s!
Put simply, omega-3 fatty acids influence muscle protein metabolism and mitochondrial physiology in human aging. A 2011 study’s objective was to evaluate the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults. The results showed that dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation increased the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older adults – so buy those omega-3-enriched eggs and add some flax seed and fish oils to your meals. Omega 3 Essential Oils
4) Eat a Mediterranean-style diet!
Decrease your consumption of inflammatory foods, like high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and processed foods, and increase your intake of leafy green vegetables, berries, mono-saturated fats like olive oil, walnuts and salmon. Cut out simple sugars and increase complex carbohydrates. In other words, eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. An easy way to accomplish this is to shop the outside aisles of your supermarket – that’s where the good stuff lives!
5) Watch the booze and quit smoking!!
Alcohol can weaken your muscles if it’s overly consumed. However, some of the healthiest people in the world consume red wine on a daily basis with no ill effect. Today the rule of thumb is to limit yourself to two alcoholic drinks per day if you’re male, and one if you’re female. As for smoking, you’ve heard all the reasons why you shouldn’t, so just don’t. We’re surprised there are still people out there who continue to burn their money while inhaling it!
To sum up – do your stretching, resistance exercises and eat well – and your muscle deterioration should be minimal.