Getting old seems like a distant concern for people under forty. If over forty, the aging process starts to register a little bit more and over fifty, many aspects of the aging process become a glaring reality.
There is one rather quiet and, to me, insidious aging factor that gets missed by a wide range of age groups. Muscle loss, one of those nasty by-products of aging that comes with many hidden impacts (almost all of them are negative) and some lead to more significant health concerns as one grows older.
Starting during puberty, growth and muscle development takes off. As people get into their late twenties, muscle development levels off. When you're young, even couch potatoes can quickly turn weak muscles into a strong highly developed musculature system.
With age, however, your muscles lose their ability to hold their form and tone if not maintained properly. Challenges to stay toned and muscular start at a younger age then you may think. Say hello to your thirties and the beginning of a balance to keep your muscle mass in check that will last the rest of your life.
Losing muscle mass and function during the aging process is usually caused by age-related sarcopenia. Once you get into your thirties, you can start to see as much as a three to five percent muscle loss every ten years or so. The process quickens and becomes more pronounced after the age of fifty.
The most at risk people typically from your thirties to old age are those who live a sedentary, inactive lifestyle with poor nutritional habits. That is not to say that specific chronic illness, genetic traits, and diseases do not add to the challenge. Staying physically active even to a minor degree is most important across a vast swath of your lifetime.
Keep in mind there is no specific test or specific musculature level to determine if you're losing too much muscle mass. Also, note that not all muscles are equal. Muscle mass and muscle density are very different things. Bodybuilder mass is not an indicator that your musculature is maintaining well as you age. There are many people with excellent muscle density, tone and are stronger and capable of lifting more weight than a bulky bodybuilder.
Holding excellent muscle mass and density as you age if you are overweight can also be deceiving. Fit fat is a real thing and many people do well keeping a solid base of muscle. Being overweight can't be an instant assumption that weight means you are developing age-related sarcopenia faster than a slender person.
Losing muscle from the natural process of age-related sarcopenia can lead to obesity, the onset of osteoporosis, compromised mobility, joint and connective tissue problems, and many other adverse health conditions.
Here a few things you need to consider as you get into your thirties and older. First, get plenty of proper sleep. Muscle repair is a big part of maintaining a healthy balanced musculature system. Be sure to consume enough protein in your diet. Protein can come from plant or animal sources. Keep in mind if you are over forty, you need more protein then in your thirties. The same goes as you age, increase your protein intake. Also, women need more protein then men since a women's digestive system does not metabolize protein as effectively as men.
Other areas to be concerned about are getting plenty of vitamin D and eating a nutritionally sound diet that does not pull essential minerals and nutrients away from your body’s development.
Finally, exercise, get a daily dose of movement and lift heavy things often. Keep your lifting in perspective to your capability to avoid injury, but moving and lifting items that have some mass forces your muscle to stay toned and developed. If you don't use your muscles, you will lose your muscles.
The real answer to a fountain of youth starts after the age of thirty and that magic is exercise and lifting weights. Stop eating a crappy diet of sugars and empty carbohydrates. Feed your body raw whole nutrient and enzyme-rich fresh foods. Sleep well, lower stress and minimize alcohol along with other unhealthy habits.
To establish a lifetime of health and wellness, get up, get going and get strong. The engine that health determines the good or bad of the overall aging process is your musculature system.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.