Are you looking to slow down the aging process a bit? Great news! Strength training is a powerful premature-aging protection medicine. Much of what we consider “normal” aging is really just loss of muscle and this is (for the most part) in our control.
The average person loses about 5-7 pounds of muscle mass per decade after age 30. This is not normal aging, it is a product of our current lifestyle. Muscle loss is accelerated in certain conditions: menopause, after just 24 hours on bed rest, using steroid medications, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer treatments, and other medical conditions. Even with these conditions, much is preventable and reversible:
- Metabolism: The typical 5-7 pound loss of muscle equates to about a 3% decrease in metabolism per decade. Add to this that about 30% of weight loss without strength training is muscle loss! This results in a sizable reduction in metabolism. No wonder most dieters regain weight!
- Bone: Every day bone cells die. IF the cells are signaled, new bone cells are made. If not, bone density is reduced.
- Balance: Muscle mass and balance go hand in hand.
- Incontinence: Don’t just accept this as part of aging. Body alignment and a misunderstanding of the function of the core muscles are big contributors.
- Back pain: Again, understanding alignment and core are key.
- Independence: Ever notice the loss of key functions, like climbing stairs, after an older person is on bed rest for even a short time?
- Arthritis: Joints rely on muscles for support. Arthritic joints need even more support. Check out research and books by Miriam Nelson, PhD.
- Blood Sugar: Muscles are designed to be the main “blood sugar management” system in the body. When not activated, the body relies on the back up system (insulin), which is not designed to be a full-time system.
Often these effects of muscle loss are treated with medication. This does not fix the root causes of the problem and can even accelerate it. Walking and daily activities are not enough to reverse muscle loss. When we understand that the muscles are just in “hibernation” and strength training wakes them up, we have a solution that makes sense. So if you have lost muscle, don’t fret! The muscle fibers are still there, waiting to be activated!
Activate it: Strength training is about quality and consistency – choosing exercises specific for the results you want, and consistently challenging the muscles with a regular routine. It’s similar to choosing the right medication and taking it consistently (without unwanted side effects!).
Contact me if you are ready to get those muscles out of hibernation!
May You Be Well,
Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC
Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Health and Wellness Coach
Yoga and Meditation Teacher