While most people fear losing their cognitive ability as they age, another real danger, according to experts, is losing muscle. Sarcopenia, or muscle loss associated with aging, can rob you of your strength and mobility and can eventually lead to the likelihood of falls and fractures, according to Web MD.
Muscle loss is a part of the aging process many doctors do not discuss during your annual physical, but everyone’s body gradually becomes less efficient at replenishing muscle tissue. If you’re weakened by diminished muscle mass, you may find it harder to get out of a chair, walk the dog, or carry in groceries. You may feel more fatigued, says renowned neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, MD, FACS, a veteran of 72 triathlons and eight Ironman triathlons.
“I’m in the fourth quarter of life myself and working diligently to maintain my own muscle mass,” he tells Newsmax. “Thankfully, muscle mass is super easy to measure so you can forecast where you’re headed.”
You can check your muscle mass at home, says the expert.
“Few people realize their grip strength doesn’t just measure the strength of their hands. It’s also an excellent indicator of their muscle health and is correlated with their longevity. For example, some studies have found that strong grip strength correlates with lower risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Maroon. “You can buy an inexpensive grip strength dynamometer online for about $20 that will give you a baseline. This simple device is growing in importance as a diagnostic tool.”
Maroon advises simple steps to maintain and improve your muscle health at any age. “There are plenty of septuagenarians and even octogenarians who, like me, are doing the right things to support their overall wellness.”
His recommendations include:
- Be mindful of your diet. “A poor diet can contribute to the deterioration of your body, including your muscles. When you eat a fast-food burger infused with antibiotics and hormones, washed down with a bottle of phosphoric acid and 12 teaspoons of sugar in your soda, it will create inflammation in your body. That is a common cause of many chronic diseases,” says Maroon.
- Take a quality supplement. “Most people think that if they just consume enough protein, their muscles will be fine. But as we age, we cannot process protein as well as we once did,” he adds. Maroon suggests taking vitamin D with calcium to improve bone health and a combination of glucosamine with chondroitin to help your joints. Adding HMB, a scientifically proven supplement to boost muscle mass, plus Vitamin D3 to your daily protein intake will improve muscle health.
- Sit less, move more. “Many people stop exercising because they get older. What they don’t realize is that they get older because they stop exercising. If you don’t use it, you do lose it to some extent,” says Maroon. While exercise is important for everyone, it is especially crucial for older adults to improve cognitive function while increasing muscle mass and strength.
- Avoid environmental toxins. Smoking and drinking are two common toxins. There’s also indoor air pollution which may be a bigger factor now because of the pandemic. It’s a good excuse to take a daily walk outdoors and enjoy nature.
- Find your balance. “In my book, Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life, I describe the importance of avoiding burnout and how to develop resilience,” Maroon says. “The four key areas to rebalancing your life are good health, a sense of spirituality, meaningful work, and strong relationships.”
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