Good News: Muscle Knows No Age

From | By Linda T. Gottlieb, MA, CPT, CET

It’s true, muscle knows no particular age, and it’s great news for you and your lifetime fitness plan. The muscles in your body do not know whether you are 17, 47 or 77. What they know is that they are either in action or not. Either they are highly metabolic tissue, or inactive and decreasing their amazing power to keep you lean, toned and fitting well in your clothes, every day of your life. For cancer patients and survivors, some of your lifesaving treatments render you with more fat than muscle, or your inactivity due to recovery has decreased your physical activity and caused you to gain weight (mostly as fat). It is said that in one year, women who needed chemotherapy for their breast cancer can see a swapping of muscle for fat that’s equivalent to 10 years of normal aging!

Add to that the fact that we are chronologically aging every day. Many of us are well aware of some of the other signs of “normal” aging, but losing your muscle doesn’t (and I say shouldn’t!) be one of them.

However, since most of us do less as we age, we set ourselves up for sarcopenia, the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength associated with aging (0.5-1% loss per year after the age of 25). Sarcopenia is a component of the frailty syndrome; the word is translated from the Greek meaning “poverty of the flesh.”

Eeew! Who wants that?

Nobody! Having more muscle is important. You want to be able to get in and out of a chair without assistance, right? To pick up and put away your own groceries in the top cupboards and lift your suitcase when you travel too? Of course!

Just a few minutes of weight bearing exercise – your own weight as in modified wall pushups or sitting sit backs – or with resistance bands or light dumbbells will help you retain and perhaps even increase your lean muscle mass. It will help make your body a fat and calorie burning furnace, giving you abundant strength to lift what you want, carry a gallon of milk in each hand and help keep your hormones balanced.

And, abundance is so much nicer than poverty, any day!