As we age, it becomes harder and harder to maintain the level of fitness we had in our youth, especially when we start pushing past the half-century mark. While osteoporosis has gotten the bulk of the attention for age related degeneration, sarcopenia, or muscle loss due to aging, is an equally important issue.
While some muscle loss and degeneration is inevitable and genetics do play a role, it is no accident that some seniors are running marathons deep into their twilight years while others may struggle with basic mobility. Here are five tips to help you stay strong and maintain muscle mass after the age of fifty.
By far, this is the number one thing you must do if you want to maintain your strength. Once your muscles begin to degenerate it can lead to reduced energy and reduced stamina leading you to reduced physical activity that results in muscle loss. Lifting weights or other forms of resistance training have been shown to increase protein synthesis in as little as two weeks and can also help to increase your hormone levels that are vital to maintaining muscle and bone mass.
While resistance training is vital to maintain your strength, you must know your limitations. This is especially true for those who were active in their younger days then became sedentary for a lengthy period of time and are looking to get back into shape. Your mind may remember being able to perform actions your body no longer can. Be sure to take appropriate time to recover from any workout as your body needs that time to repair itself. If possible, work with a trainer who has experience working with older clients, as they will be able to adequately gauge how hard to push you in order to maximize results.
Just as you emphasize the importance of good nutrition to your children or grandkids, it applies all the same to you!
Getting a sufficient amount of protein is vital for maintaining muscle mass, but that doesn’t mean you should be wolfing down cheeseburgers. Try to eat lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, eggs or ground turkey. It also becomes increasingly important to eat plenty of vegetables. Greens such as broccoli, asparagus, lentils, edamame, kale and spinach are some of your most nutrient dense options and contain plenty of protein.
Maintaining your strength and muscle mass as you age requires you to make lifestyle choices not just throw away a couple hours every other week at the gym. Consistency is the key to results. This applies to both your diet and exercise regime. Make a plan of attack and stick with it and you’ll be active well into your later years.
While diet and exercise are the most important factors, certain supplements have been shown to help maintain muscle mass with age. As many people age, they find it difficult to eat enough protein and a whey protein supplement can provide a simple and delicious solution. Creatine has also been shown to help prevent the loss of fast twitch muscle fibre associated with aging and Vitamin D has also been shown to help preserve muscle mass.
While time catches up to all of us, these are five steps you can take to make sure you’re just one step ahead of it as long as possible!