Keeping your fat-burning, stamina-supporting muscle as you age By Missi Balison
Do you ever see videos online of people in their 70s and beyond shooting hoops, bicycling, or busting a move on the dance floor and think to yourself, “I want to be that person when I grow up”? I know I do!
One of the best things you can do to help make that happen is to: Start doing those things now (if you aren’t already), and take care of your muscles by keeping them strong and flexible.
Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s easier to clean a clean house”? It seems like a no-brainer, but the same philosophy works with your fitness and health. It’s so much easier to keep your fitness level (and your muscle) than it is to rebuild it.
Important Note: It’s never too late to get into shape and gain muscle … you can absolutely do it. It doesn’t matter what your age is. It just takes time, consistency and a little patience.
Here’s why it’s so important. When you hit the age of 30, you start losing 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass each year.
Studies even show that over your lifetime you can lose up to 30 percent of your muscle (if you are not doing anything to actively spare it). Less muscle = less strength = less balance = more risk of falls and fracture. Not good! Plus, not only does keeping your muscles healthy improve your strength and quality of life, but it also is an important part of keeping your metabolism revved (i.e. burning fat) as you age.
This is why strength training is so important as you get older! It can help your body retain your muscle, and maybe even reverse the trend.
Here are two to-dos to put on your weekly self-care list to get a jump start on keeping that precious muscle … and helping it stay strong and flexible. These things will pay off not only now but for decades into the future.
• Get at least two total body strength-training workouts in each week. These workouts should include all your major muscle groups, including your “big” muscles—legs, back and chest. Bonus: Resistance training also helps keep your bones strong.
• Make time to stretch. This gets even more important as you get older. Not only does it help cut back on aches and pains, but it helps your muscles move through a wide range of motion. Maintaining flexibility is a surprising factor when it comes to balance.
When your range of motion becomes limited, it can affect your walking gait as well as your posture. Both of those have a big effect on your balance! Try to set aside five to 10 minutes several days a week to work on your flexibility.
Even if those “older” years seem far away, it’s definitely worth a little thought now. Your future will be incredibly grateful to present-day you. I guarantee it.
Missi Balison, owner of Missi Balison Fitness, is a personal trainer, exercise physiologist and Certified Precision Nutrition coach.