How to Keep from Losing Muscle Mass As You Age

Like many of the more unwelcome, age-related changes in our lives, muscle loss usually begins in our thirties. According to Harvard Health Publishing, we lose three to five percent of our muscle mass per decade after we turn thirty. And as we begin losing muscle mass, our muscle strength, shape, and function goes with it.

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6 Tips to Keep from Losing Muscle Mass
Though the loss of muscle mass is in many ways inevitable, there are a few things you can do to retain and gain muscle mass as you age. It takes work, of course, and discipline, but these strategies do work when sustained over time.

  • Get active – So simple, so true. As we age, the frequency and intensity if our activity tends to wane. And returning to regular activity after a period of inactivity can be even more challenging. Still, inactivity and sedentary lifestyles are top contributors to the loss of muscle mass as we age. Step one: get out and get active!
  • Get your protein – It can be difficult enough to consume enough protein. The challenge increases as we age, especially for men who suffer from anabolic resistance. Though meat, eggs, and milk are the best sources of protein, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives. A good rule of thumb is one gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.
  • Round out your diet – Protein intake is certainly not enough. Getting the the right nutrition is essential to all aspects of health, including the prevention of muscle loss. Keep your diet colorful, diverse, and free of excess sugar and fats if you want to stave off muscle loss (oh, and drink lots of water, of course).
  • Embrace strength training – It’s time to dust off those dumbbells! Strength training is a staple of muscle building for a reason. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to modify strength training exercises to accommodate all levels of skill and conditioning. Even simple bodyweight exercises like pushups, pullups, and free squats can do wonders. Aim to work in strength training at least two times a week.
  • Be powerful – Strength training is one thing, but power is wholly another. Be explosive! From time to time, we recommend shortening up repetitions on your sets and increasing the speed and explosiveness of your strength exercises. Why? Because you’ll recruit more muscle fibers and increase lean muscle mass. Read: 3 Tips for Building Fast Twitch Muscles
  • Get enough sleep – We harp on the importance of adequate sleep a lot on the AlterG blog for a good reason: getting a solid seven to eight hours can help maintain balance in blood sugar, blood pressure, and hormone regulation, all of which can help you retain and build muscle mass.

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Why It’s Important to Retain Muscle Mass
As noted, the research is clear that we will gradually lose muscle mass as we age. It’s important to combat this loss by committing to some of the principles listed above.

Retaining muscle mass is essential to maintaining healthy metabolic function as we age. It also can also provide the strength and mobility needed to remain independent and prevent chronic diseases. Your muscles are important—it’s time to start taking care of them!

Global Running Day 2019 – All You Need To Know

One of our favorite things about running is that almost anyone can do it. All you need is a little motivation, a pair of shoes (optional!), and some earth beneath your feet. This kind of simplicity is what gives running its global appeal. Moreover, affirming this passion for running is the idea behind Global Running Day 2019. Continue reading “Global Running Day 2019 – All You Need To Know”

Can You Run With Achilles Tendonitis?

Let’s get straight to the point: Can you run with Achilles tendonitis? The answer, in short, is yes. The real question is, should you run with Achilles tendonitis? That answer depends on the severity of your case, how you workout, and your objectives for managing (and eventually) overcoming this nagging condition.

What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is a chronic inflammation of the tendon connecting the heel to the calf muscles. Because Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by repetition and overuse, running with Achilles tendonitis tends to make the problem worse, and can increase the chance of tears or tendon ruptures.

Common Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is characterized by mild to medium pain in the heel, the Achilles, and the back of the leg. Sufferers might notice these symptoms after running or walking. Soreness and stiffness the morning after running, walking, and other athletic activities are also quite common to Achilles tendonitis sufferers.

Tips for Healing Achilles Tendonitis
The reason that healing your Achilles tendonitis is so challenging is because the Achilles is engaged in nearly all walking and running motions. To begin the healing process and banish this nagging injury once and for all, here are a few tips:

  • Take a break: A hard pill to swallow, especially for regular runners. But taking an extended rest (at least from running) can give your damaged Achilles time to heal and helps prevent more serious injuries that could take you away from running far longer.
  • Strengthen the surrounding muscles: Weaknesses in surrounding muscles, namely the calves, as well as limited range of motion, can contribute to Achilles damage.
  • Stretch: It is so easy to forget to stretch before and after running. But maintaining flexibility and range of motion can help you prevent and recover from tendon injuries.
  • Check your footwear: What you wear on your feet can contribute or prevent injury. Stiffness in your shoe, poor fit, and shoes not designed to accommodate your particular running gait can lead to tendonitis when used over time.
  • Audit your gait: On that note, it’s important to understand your gait in order to correct gait imbalances. Hip misalignments, for example, or problems with pronation are common contributors to Achilles tendonitis and other injuries.

Unfortunately, there is no cure all for Achilles tendonitis. The condition is caused by damage to the tendon, and healing damaged tendons requires sustained healing time and acute attention. Understanding the injury and incorporating the tips above into the healing plan is a good place to start. If symptoms don’t improve, seek out a physical therapist to help you with your recovery.

How to Adapt Your Fitness Routine For the Later Years

We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it: regular exercise unlocks immense benefits for all age groups. For seniors, exercise is the ticket to a happier, healthier retirement. Benefits include:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved mental health
  • Weight maintenance or loss
  • Looking and feel younger

Yet with the passing years comes the need to adapt exercise routines. With each decade, the body changes, and what used to be easy-breezy is now more challenging. This doesn’t mean people can’t continue exercising as they age. It just means they need to refine their approach.

Go See the Physician
Regular readers of the AlterG blog will recognize this common refrain: when introducing exercise into one’s life, or drastically changing one’s routine, it’s important to talk to the doctor first. That goes for people of all ages.

This doesn’t have to be complicated, though: an annual physical evaluation with a primary care physician is the right time to evaluate one’s suitability for regular exercise and any additional precautions they need to take.

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Start Simple and Progress Incrementally
Our age and physical condition are no match for the inner picture we have of ourselves (I’ll be 25 forever!). While relatable, attempting the same activities, with the same intensity, that we could earlier in life lead to injury.

Instead, set an objective to do one simple exercise, such as walking, toe touches, or stretching every day, or every other day, for two weeks. After two weeks, you’ll have developed the habit of exercise on which you can build toward a more advanced senior exercise routine.

RELATED: Train Seniors Using Unweighting

Establish Baseline Flexibility and Balance
For the first couple of weeks, make balance, core strength, and flexibility the areas of focus. This will help establish a baseline that will enable comfortable, safe, and effective exercise later on.

Modify Your Existing Routine
Don’t rule out a return to glory just yet! Many of the exercises and routines you used to do can be modified. Lifting weights, stretching, aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi—all of these can be done while sitting in a chair. Many seniors take to the pool for aerobic routines that are just as challenging, but not as hard on the body.

Work With a Physical Therapist
The question is, do seniors need a physical therapist? In some cases, physical disability, injury, fall risk, and other factors common among seniors necessitate work with a physical therapist. For seniors, working with a physical therapist can offer a number of advantages:

  • Guided exercises that limit fall risk
  • Identify and work on weaknesses or deficiencies
  • Rehabilitate and recover from injury
  • Go slow under the supervision of a professional

The supervision of a professional can be very beneficial. Physical therapists have tools and techniques at their disposal that are designed to help people get the most out of their workouts—regardless of age, condition, injury status—in sensible, safe increments.

LEARN MORE: Anti-Gravity Treadmill for Seniors

5 Creative Ways to Workout as a Family

Happy Mother’s Day! Having children changes everything, doesn’t it? As much as parents want to believe they’ll be able to live the same life after kids—oh, how we hold on tight to that belief—it all changes when that first padawan arrives.

One of the first things to go is the exercise routine. During the first couple of years of parenthood, who really has time to go for a jog or hit the gym when there are young children to take care of? Fair enough. Even though it might not be the same as it was, there are still ways to squeeze in exercise. It just takes a little bit of group mentality.

5 Creative Ways to Exercise as a Family
The trick is to thread exercise into your existing schedule—to sneak exercise into the family activities you already do with your family. And what better time to exercise as a family than Mother’s Day? (Okay, maybe start with these tips the day after Mother’s Day so mom can get her proper kicks.)

1. Go for a Walk
Walking is the new running! At least for parents, it is. Walking is great for papa bear, mama bear, the babies, even grandma and grandpa. Getting out and in the sunshine can not only provide exercise to people of all ages, but can also provide the psychological break that many parents often need. Make walks a game by singing, marching, and gamifying certain milestones (times around the block, steps, etc.).

2. Make Cleanup Time a Dance Party
It’s hard to convince kids to clean up. Heck, it’s hard to convince ourselves to cleanup—unless you make it fun. And what better calorie-burner is there than dancing? It’s fun, engaging, and it begs for your favorite soundtrack. Got vinyl around or a favorite playlist? Throw them on and set an example by dancing through the entire cleanup. Dancing is contagious, you’ll see. The kids will follow and you’ll all be burning calorie as you go.

3. Get Moving During Commercial Breaks
Let’s face it: most families spend a lot of time watching television together. Kids shows are educational, entertaining, and they help plug kids in so that parents can tune out a while (seriously, how many times have you seen Baby Shark and Frozen?). During breaks and commercials, get the kids up and moving by doing jumping jacks, running in place, or even burpees. If the kids are too young, do the exercises yourself. Eventually, they’ll come around (and maybe your spouse will, too).

4. Put the Children to Work
Admit it: when you found out you were having kids, part of you was excited to hand off chores and housework. Mowing the lawn. Raking leaves. Pulling weeds and cleaning gutters. A couple of hours spent on any of these chores is no small physical ask. You’ll be sweating and sore in no time. Get the kids involved and Sunday chores will quickly become the Sunday family workout.

5. Take the Dog for a Walk
Kids. Love. Dogs. Don’t we all? And if you have one in your family, you have an always-on, never-sleeping opportunity for exercise. When’s the last time your dog refused to go for a walk? Head out to the nearest park, prairie reserve, or beach and go for a long one. Get the kids involved or, if they’re old enough, charge them with handling dog walking all on their own. The Kennel Club recommends two fifteen-to-twenty-minute walks a day. That’s two opportunities to get up, get moving, and do something beneficial to the health of both canine and child members of the family.

Keep It Interesting, Keep Consistent
To exercise as a family, you need to get creative and you need to stay consistent. There are only so many hours in a day. But busy doesn’t have to mean sedentary. When you make exercise part of the fabric of the family, the kids will respond in kind. And an active lifestyle is one of the best examples parents can set.

3 Ways to Improve Running Ergonomics and the Kinetic Chain

Going for a jog is far more complex than might meet the eye. Every motion—every single stride—is the product of a small orchestra conducted by your body. The bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons work in unison to make the running movement happen fluidly and efficiently.

This is known as a kinetic chain, of which there are many throughout the body. Within the running kinetic chain, we find the ergonomics of running. Much like office ergonomics, where improper seating, seat height, and other factors can cause painful and damaging imbalances, imperfections in your running ergonomics can present up and down the kinetic chain in a variety of (not so pleasant) ways.

What Comprises the Running Kinetic Chain?

Generally speaking, the kinetic chain as it relates to running is comprised of a few key parts:

  • Feet
  • Legs
  • Core
  • Lower back
  • Upper back
  • Arms and shoulders

Of course, within each part of the kinetic chain lives a vast array of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Deploying this chain to run with good form is challenging. Acute pain and chronic conditions, such as runner’s knee, tendonitis, and even strains could be the result of a weak link in the kinetic chain.

Use These Tips to Keep the Kinetic Chain Humming

Imbalances can be slow in developing. Poor core strength, for example, or gait imperfections, might cause pain or injury further up or down the line. The lower back, knees, and ankles—it’s all connected. Here are a few ways to ensure better running ergonomics and a strong and healthy kinetic chain.

1. Create a Strong Base

Central to maintaining proper running form starts with … well … your center. Working on core and leg strength will translate to a better ability to keep the core engaged during each running movement. This helps maintain control and avoid the imbalances that can create weakness in the chain.

Exercises that help create a strong base:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Abdominal planks

2. Stay Flexible

To run with good form means striding properly and engaging the hips and core. This makes flexibility incredibly important to maintaining proper running ergonomics. Indeed, strong flexibility makes for a strong kinetic chain.

Activities that contribute to better flexibility for running:

  • Yoga
  • “Opening up” the hips
  • Consistent warm-up and cool-down routines

3. Move Intentionally

When you run, it is important to do so with information—to understand the mechanics involved. When you understand the mechanics, you can recognize bad habits and correct gait imbalances on the fly.

What to focus on for better movement:

  • Head position
  • Arm position and movement
  • Foot strike point

Finally, Examine Your Form

Sometimes, monitoring and correcting gait imbalances requires more than the naked eye. Runners of all skill levels use the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ with Stride Smart Gait Analytics to take a more precise look at all the elements of running ergonomics.

Using Stride Smart, therapists can use video monitoring to analyze and address gait imbalances on the fly. While the patient exercises, therapists can show them asymmetries and imbalances right then and there, allowing runners to self-correct. It is a highly effective and accessible way to address gait imbalances, ensure strong running ergonomics, and develop a rock-solid running kinetic chain.