Most people are quite active throughout their teens and early 20s, but then start slowing down. Yet they continue to eat the same, or even a little more. This leads to an extra couple of inches around the waistline and generalized loss of muscle tone. As the fat deposits increase around the muscles, people tend to move even less, and the muscle atrophy is accelerated. But this loss of muscle mass can be reversed. Here’s how to preserve muscle mass as you age:
Progressive Strength Training: This is done by increasing the weight lifted or the number of repetitions of the exercise. This should be done gradually over a period of many weeks to avoid overtraining injuries. As you put more load on your muscles, they compensate by growing stronger and increasing in size.
Increase Protein Intake: Protein is the building block of your muscles. It also improves your metabolism and fat-burning potential. Great sources of protein are egg whites, chicken, turkey, salmon, and dairy products. Plant based protein options are nuts, seeds, and beans. High-quality protein powders such as grass-fed whey protein is a great option to supplement your protein intake.
Get Enough Sleep: Strenuous exercise causes microtears in the muscle tissue and your muscles have a chance to repair themselves and grow larger while you sleep. Also, if you go to the gym tired or sleepy, the chances are you won’t be able to push yourself during your workouts enough to stimulate muscle growth. Try to get between 7-9 hours of sleep every day to maximize your muscle gains.
Fitness has no age limit. No matter how old you are, by dedicating 30-45 minutes 2-3 times a week to strength training, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep, you will be able to attain and maintain a higher level of muscle mass than you ever thought possible.
Of note, before starting a new exercise program or if you haven’t been active in a while, it’s best to get a health check up by your doctor.
Dr. Brian E. Coleman is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon, with expertise in foot and ankle surgery, sports medicine, fracture repair/reconstruction, and gait (limb movement) analysis. Dr. Coleman is a diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. Our team of physicians provides an advanced level of care, integrating the newest cutting-edge surgical and nonsurgical techniques, with proven traditional methods of treatments. The physicians at South Palm Orthopedics are committed to providing the highest level of orthopedic care to each and every patient each and every time.