We understand the importance of maintaining muscle strength as we age. No big surprise that it’s important. But strength isn’t just about being able to lift stuff and climb a flight of stairs. It’s about overall body functioning, particularly in two key areas:
When muscles get weak, more pressure is put on joints. That’s not to say that everyone with adequate muscle mass will have perfect joints. I wish. But clearly, we put our joints at more risk of wear and tear if our muscles aren’t strong enough to support basic joint function.
Muscles and bones work together. Bones stay strong to support the load that is put on them. Using our muscles is what makes bones stay strong. This is a simple fact of physiology.
“By the age of 80, a woman can lose up to 50% of her bone mass, whereas a man might lose around 18%. This is why women are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men.”
I want my StayAhead members to stay strong! So what should we do? You already know about resistance training. You’re doing it, right? As we age, everyone should be doing MORE resistance training not less. Resistance bands, dumbbells, bodyweight exercises, yoga, or Pilates are great options.
In addition to resistance training, I have three more ideas for you to consider:
I believe strongly that we need more protein as we age. Let’s look into it
What Is Protein?
Protein is an essential nutrient that is broken down into 20 building blocks called amino acids. 9 of the 20 are not naturally made by the body which means that we must obtain them from quality protein sources.
Protein Is Critical
Protein plays a critical role in muscle creation and functional mobility. Skeletal muscle impacts metabolism as well as directly influencing quality of life issues with chronic disease and aging.
As we age, we are at greater risk for falls that cause broken bones that may require surgery and hospitalization, which can lead to complications, which can lead to death.
More Important As We Age
As we get older, the efficiency of protein turnover goes down. Adults 35 and up have much higher protein requirements yet many of us eat less and less protein as we age. The goal is to maximize muscle protein synthesis to preserve lean tissue for as long as possible. Therefore we should eat MORE protein as we age, not LESS.
Don’t let aging make you frail. Stay strong!
Best Source of Protein
If your diet consists mostly of salads, carb-heavy foods, processed foods, and low-protein vegetables, you’re likely not giving your muscles the resources they need to get stronger. Yes, there is protein from non-animal sources, but it’s not as bio-available and is lacking some of those 9 essential amino acids that we must get from food.
I’m not getting into a discussion about vegan vs carnivore. That’s up to you. But, for what it’s worth, my choice is animal protein. Personally, I want to be as strong as possible for my next twenty years and more. I’m going to, with gratitude, use the most effective resources that are available to me, which is animal protein.
How Much Protein?
If you google this question you’ll get a variety of answers. The RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For a 120-pound person, that’s approximately 45 grams of protein per day. But keep in mind, the RDA is a minimum requirement to keep the body functioning, not thriving. I want more than basic functioning. Don’t you? So I’m upping my protein intake.
Current research shows that to build muscle and to get ahead, you need twice as much protein. The target should be more like 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. 110 grams per day for a 120-pound person. 160 grams per day for a 180-pound person.
I’ve only scratched the surface of the protein topic. Do your research. Talk to your nutritionist. But I want to encourage you to do all you can to increase your muscle mass. Protein is an essential component of the strength equation. Email me if you have questions or if you want a referral for my nutritionist.
Creatine is a supplement that is well-known in the world of strength training and bodybuilding. But it works for us too. Studies show that it increases muscle mass, strength, and exercise performance as well as helps lower blood sugar and improve brain function.
Creatine is one of the world’s most tested supplements and has an outstanding safety profile. I take 5 grams of creatine every day. Look into it. It’s an easy way to help your body get stronger. It’s relatively inexpensive and easily obtainable.
3. Weighted Carries
This last suggestion is back to the resistance training topic. One of the best things you can do to keep your body strong is to lift and carry heavy things. Doing so puts a load on your muscles and bones. Your body gets stronger to support the load.
To do a weighted carry, grab something heavy and walk around with it. So simple! Here’s a photo of me carrying two 25-pound dumbbells.