When you age, maintaining and building muscle becomes more difficult, but not impossible. Many older adults don’t realize the importance of maintaining muscle, and no, it’s not to look buff and strong. It actually keeps you safe and healthy.
This is because strong muscles help support our skeleton to prevent breaks and fractures. They also promote balance and reduce the risk of falls, which are far more common among older adults.
Because many seniors live a more sedentary life, this is a large contributing factor to weak muscles along with a diet that contains less protein.
Muscle loss can begin to occur as early as 30 years of age but begins to accelerate after 50.
Even though building muscle may be harder the older you are, it is still very possible. In fact, research findings suggest that people can continue to build muscle right into their 90s. Here are some tips for building stronger muscles regardless of your age.
Strength training: Strength training helps build muscle and support the connection between nerves and muscle cells. Strength training also improves your body’s ability to respond to dietary protein. To build muscle through strength training, you need to choose a weight or resistance that is difficult to perform over 10 to 15 times. Perform an exercise about three times with a rest in between sets. Performing strength training a couple times a week on major muscle groups will give you the best results.
Protein: Dietary protein is also essential for the building and maintaining of muscle. Unfortunately, many seniors tend to eat less protein. Protein sources include chicken, fish, lean meats, soy, peanuts, and beans. Protein should be consumed after a workout to promote muscle repair and growth. Protein should also be consumed with some carbohydrates 30 to 40 minutes prior to a workout. Some studies have suggested that seniors consume double the recommended intake of protein.
Other muscle-building tips: Aside from the standard strength training and protein tips, other tips that can help aid in muscle growth are cardiovascular activities like walking, jogging, or biking, as it improves your heart health and insulin response. Even if you’re not exercising, take up a hobby that keeps you on your feet as opposed to sitting down. You also want to ensure you are reducing your stress and sleeping well, as this ensures that your hormones are optimized, which aids in muscle growth.
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